(Welcome all! With the NFL becoming more of a passing league, the “Cover 9” blog will become all of the rage. You can read it here every Wednesday at 9 a.m. throughout the season. We’ll try to get to everything about the Atlanta Falcons. Here’s my first installment of Cover 9@9. – D. Orlando Ledbetter)
1. Rob Gehring — @RobGehringNFL on twitter.com — has worked the last 20 years for the NFL. The supervising producer and director of HBO’s Hard Knocks reality show has been walking the grounds at Flowery Branch and likes the landscape. It has an “old school” feel for him.
“That’s going to be neat for us,” Gehring said. “We haven’t shot at a campus or college type of environment since probably the Jets. I think that is going to be fun for us in terms of the chemistry-building, the team-building and everybody in that play-ville space, just kind of always being around each other. I think that will be a neat wrinkle for the show.”
HBO’s robotic cameras are in place all around the facilities. The 30-member crew for Hard Knocks, the 11-time Emmy winning sports documentary show, has already started shooting. The first episode airs at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 5.
Their first event was coach Mike Smith’s staff meeting Tuesday morning. Later in the day, the cameras were rolling as the 29 rookies moved into their rooms.
“In the beginning when Steve (Sabol) wanted to do this show, he wanted to show how hard it was to make an NFL roster,” Gehring said. “He always loved the content of these guys at the back end of the roster, the 53rd man. Sometimes it’s a seven-round pick. Sometimes it’s an undrafted guy. He always really liked that.”
Starr, wide receivers Bernard Reedy and Geraldo Boldewijn, a native of Amsterdam, will get some attention.
“Those guys will definitely be characters in the show and I think draft picks in general are always characters in the show,” Gehring said.
2. With the cameras in the meeting rooms, the viewers might get to see the “I’m not a nice guy” Coach Smith. Normally, he’s composed and scripted for his media briefings and comes off as everybody’s Uncle Smitty. I’ve seen the “not a nice guy” dude!
He also will strive to end the “myth” that he’s not tough enough on his players. “Do I have to kick ass more? I think I have to dispel some myths: Mike Smith is not a nice guy,” he said.
He’s fierce! Smith is firm and very clear when he makes his points. However, I haven’t heard him use profanity. So, there probably will not be any “Now, let’s go eat a god damn snack!” sound bites.
“I’m just starting to get to know Coach Smith now,” Gehring said. “My impression is that he’s probably a little bit of both. He’s been very good to us. He’s been very kind. He’s been very helpful. He’s been very open minded about the things that we want to try and do on the show. I haven’t had a chance to really see him be tough with the players, but they haven’t put on any pads yet. He hasn’t been a hard ass with us yet, but I’m sure that’s coming, too.”
3. Smith has become comfortable with the cameras. He expects the team will be at ease after a few days.
“Well, they’ve been here through our minicamp, so it’s nothing new for us,” Smith said. “Again, our focus is on putting together the roster. I don’t think it’s going to affect us one bit. We know what our task is and our task is to get these guys prepared. We have to put the best 53 guys together to open the season. I don’t think after a day or two, it’s going to affect the players either.
“Once we get into the swing of training camp, it’s training camp. We are always under a microscope in this league and I don’t think this (exhibition) season is going to be any different.”
4. We need to get an update on Arthur Blank’s wedding plans. I don’t know if a date has been set, but Blank and fiancée Angie Macuga still look so happy when you see them.
What do you get a billionaire for a wedding gift? A gift card from Kohl’s is probably is not a enough.
5. I’m certain that Hard Knocks will save some air time for Blank.
Last season, Bengals owner Mike Brown was on a few times. I remember Jets owner Woody Johnson being on the show during the Darrelle Revis holdout.
“I certainly think that Mr. Blank, especially, will be a part of this,” Gehring said. “Obviously, he’s an owner who on NFL Sundays is around the team. He’s down on the sidelines . . . He’s a very busy man, so if we have a chance to shoot him we’ll be pretty lucky. But, I certainly think he’ll be a part of the show. In what capacity, I don’t think we’ve figured that out yet.
“Hard Knocks is a show that documents what happens. We try to be as authentic as we can. So, if Mr. Blank comes to camp, we’ll document it.”
6. Some folks have checked in with their predictions for the season, including my colleague Mark Bradley. He’s expecting the Falcons to bounce back and post a 10-6 mark.
Hub Arkush’s Pro Football Now Preview magazine has the Falcons picked to finish 9-7 and in third place in the NFC South behind New Orleans (10-6) and Carolina (9-7). They have the Bucs slated to finish 7-9.
The Sporting News 2014 Football magazine has the Falcons picked to finish third, too.
Athlon Sports’ Pro Football magazine has Matt Ryan on the cover. They also predict a third place finish.
Lindy’s Sports Pro Football 2014 Preview magazine, which also has Ryan on the cover, has the Falcons predicted to finish fourth.
7. Pat Angerer, who was signed by the Falcons on Tuesday, played all 16 games once in four seasons with the Colts.
He started 11 of 16 games as rookie and all 16 games in 2011. He was slowed by injuries over the last two years and the Colts elected not to re-sign him.
He was not disgruntled when he received the news.
“I understand,” Angerer said to the Indianapolis Star in March. “I’ve been hurt the past two years.
“It’s part of the business. It’s part of the game. There comes a time when you’ve got to move on. I wish I could have played better here. I wish I hadn’t gotten hurt.”
He underwent right knee surgery in late December and ended last season on injured reserve.
In 2012, he fractured a bone in his right foot that required two surgeries.
In 2011, he led the Colts with 146 tackles, which was fourth in the NFL. He was second on the team with 75 tackles as a rookie.
“I wouldn’t change anything, other than I wish I hadn’t gotten hurt,” Angerer said. “But like I said, I can still play this game.
“There were games where I had a cortisone shot in my knee and I still had double-digit tackles. I can still do this. It’s just a matter of getting healthy and taking care of the things I need to take care of.”
8. Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert is a speedster. He’s been timed between 4.38 and 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He was timed in the 3-cone drill at 6.70 at Northwestern’s Pro Day back in 2012. That time would have been the seventh fastest at the 2014 combine.
9. Extra points: The cheerleaders recently unveiled their new uniforms…I asked one of my friends, who’s a Georgia alum and football supporter, if the Bulldogs need to do more “character-based” recruiting. I’m waiting for his response to my text. “Character-based/related” scouting seems to have helped the Falcons. There were no arrests over the offseason, while Baltimore had five arrests. . . . Television station CW69 will air Falcons Rise Weekly show on Saturdays at 6 p.m. which will be hosted by former Falcons linebacker Coy Wire and the lovely Rashan Ali, Falcons Inside the Locker Room-After the Game with player interviews by Dave Archer and Wes Durham and in studio analysis from J.P. Peterson, formerly of 790TheZone. Falcons playback will air on Mondays at 6 p.m. and will be hosted by Randy Waters and D.J. Shockley. Jenn Hobby will handle the fan segment.
PROJECTED 2014 TRAINING CAMP DEPTH CHART
WR 11 Julio Jones, 13 Darius Johnson, 14 Courtney Roby, 18 Freddie Martino, 89 Bernard Reedy,
LT 72 Sam Baker, 76 Lamar Holmes, 74 Terren Jones
LG 63 Justin Blalock, 68 Gabe Carimi, 67 Adam Replogle
C 61 Joe Hawley, 66 Peter Konz, 62 James Stone
RG 75 Jon Asamoah, 69 Harland Gunn
RT 70 Jake Matthews, 79 Mike Johnson 73 Ryan Schrader
TE 80 Levine Toilolo, 86 Bear Pascoe, 82 Mickey Shuler, 81 Jacob Pedersen, 49 Brian Wozniak
WR 84 Roddy White, 83 Harry Douglas, Jeremy Ebert, 15 Geraldo Boldewijn, 16 Julian Jones, 87 Tramaine Thompson
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 T.J. Yates, 12 Sean Renfree, 9 Jeff Mathews
RB 39 Steven Jackson, 32 Jacquizz Rodgers, 35 Antone Smith, 33 Devonta Freeman, 30 Josh Vaughan, 34 Jerome Smith
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco, 45 Maurice Hagens, 43 Roosevelt Nix
4-3 DEFENSE (with an extra line for the nickel back)
RE 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 50 Osi Umenyiora, 96 Jonathan Massaquoi, 90 Stansly Maponga
DT 99 Tyson Jackson, 92 Travian Robertson, *91 Corey Peters,
DT 96 Paul Soliai, 97 Peria Jerry, 98 Cliff Matthews, 65 Donte Rumph
LE 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 98 Malliciah Goodman, 49 Tyler Starr, 64 Nosa Equae
OLB 71 Kroy Biermann, 48 Brenden Daley, 45 Jacques Smith
MLB 55 Paul Worrilow, Pat Angerer, 53 Prince Shembo, 52 Tim Dobbins, 54 Yawin Smallwood
OLB 59 Joplo Bartu, 53 Prince Shembo, 51 Marquis Spruill, 46 Walker May,
RCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 28 Javier Arenas, 37 Ricardo Allen,
NB 26 Josh Wilson, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas, 41 Dezmen Southward
LCB 23 Robert Alford, 24 Jordan Mabin, 43 Devonta Glover-Wright
SS 25 William Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Kimario McFadden, *22 Zeke Motta
FS 20 Dwight Lowery, 41 Dezmen Southward, 29 Sean Baker
* – PUP list
K 3 Matt Bryant, 6 Sergio Castillo
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 17 Devin Hester, 28 Javier Arenas, 14 Courtney Roby
PR 17 Devin Hester, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher
TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
Date Practice Times (public availability)
Tuesday, July 22 Rookies report
Thursday, July 24 Veterans report
Friday, July 25 Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)
Saturday, July 26 Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)
Sunday, July 27 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Monday, July 28 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Tuesday, July 29 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Wednesday, July 30 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Thursday, July 31 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Friday, August 1 “Friday Night Lights” at Archer High School (Lawrenceville)
6:45 – 9:10 p.m. (open to the public)
Saturday, August 2 Practice 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (open to the public)
Sunday, August 3 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Monday, August 4 Combined Practice w/Tennessee 3-5:30 p.m. (open to the public)
Tuesday, August 5 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Wednesday, August 6 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Thursday, August 7 Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)
Friday, August 8 Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins
7:00 p.m. ET – CW69
Saturday, August 9 Practice 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. (open to the public)
Sunday, August 10 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Monday, August 11 Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)
Tuesday, August 12 Practice 10:00 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (open to the public)
Wednesday, August 13 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)
Thursday, August 14 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)
Friday, August 15 Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)
Saturday, August 16 Falcons at Houston Texans
8:00 p.m. ET – CW69
Sunday, August 17 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Monday, August 18 Practice 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (closed to the public)
MANDATORY MINICAMP REVIEW
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