COVER 9@9: How will Quinn get the line ready?

1. CRASH COURSE FOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: The Falcons have left guard Andy Levitre on a crash course to start the opener against the Eagles.

Levitre came in on Saturday and started meeting with the coaching staff. They are also getting tackle Bryce Harris and center Gino Gradkowski ready for emergency duty.

“We’re going to work as fast as we can,” Quinn said, when asked how he planned to get the linemen ready for the opener. “We’ll put a lot on them in a short period of time.”

Levitre was elated with the news of the trade. He even restructured his contract to give the Falcons a more cap friendly number: $1.5 million down from $6.5 million. The Falcons are $14.3 million under the cap.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn after practice on Wednesday, August 5, 2015. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons coach Dan Quinn after practice on Wednesday, August 5, 2015. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

“Andy came in and spent some time here over the weekend,” Quinn said. “He’s probably the farthest along of the new guys. Bryce, also did the same thing (on Monday), spent all of his time with the coaches.”

Gradkowski, who was claimed off waivers from Denver on Monday, was in the building on Tuesday to start getting ready.

Levitre, who’s started 96 NFL games, fell out of favor in Tennessee and was considered expendable.

Quinn said the Falcons were impressed with Levitre’s initial quickness.

“He’s really strong in terms of protection,” Quinn said. “He can anchor.”

2.  MAIL BAG ANNOUNCEMENT: The weekly Falcons Fan Mailbag will start on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 11:30 to 12:30. We’ll be ready to answer your questions and preview the season-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, who some are calling Super Bowl contenders.

3. UNDRAFTED ROOKIES: Running back Terron Ward and free safety Robenson Therezie both made the team as undrafted rookies.

Ward, the younger brother of Denver safety T.J. Ward, was impressive early.

“I think the combination as a protector and as a runner,” Quinn said. “The detail that he went for on special teams, to really go for it, just jumped out at us right away.”

081915 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow (left) and outside linebacker Tyler Starr (right) run a defensive drill during team practice on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

081915 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow (left) and outside linebacker Tyler Starr (right) run a defensive drill during team practice on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons didn’t know where to play Therezie at first.

“We saw the big jump when we got to camp,” Quinn said. “He was one that totally made the jump at free safety. Is he a corner? Is he a nickel? Or is he safety? . . . .it became really clear that he could be best featured at free safety.”

Last season, center/guard James Stone made the team as an undrafted rookie from Tennessee. In 2013, right tackle Ryan Schraeder (Valdosta State), linebacker Paul Worrilow (Delaware) and Joplo Bartu (Texas State) made the team as undrafted rookies.

Back in 2007, wide receiver Eric Weems, who was voted one of the captains for the 2015 season, made the team as an undrafted free agent out of Bethune-Cookman.

4. MONTEE BALL OFF THE BOARD: When asked if they would make any more moves at running back after being linked to Montee Ball, Quinn said, “No.”

5. TAMME READY: Tight end Jacob Tamme, who left the exhibition finale with a back injury, has recovered and is slated to start against the Eagles.



6. WHO GOES IF LONG IS SIGNED?: Jake Long, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft, will workout for the Falcons today. There’s plenty of salary cap room to sign Long if the team is impressed with his workout.

“We worked him out at the start of training camp,” Quinn said. “We want to see the progress that he’s made during that time. That’s kind of where we are headed now. He’s another month removed from the surgery. We are looking forward for him to come down.”

Offensive guards Mike Person (left) and Jared Smith (right) run agility drills during team practice Tuesday in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton/www.ajc.com

Offensive guards Mike Person (left) and Jared Smith (right) run agility drills during team practice Tuesday in Flowery Branch.
Curtis Compton/www.ajc.com

Two picks after Long was selected back in 2008, the Falcons selected quarterback Matt Ryan.

The Falcons currently have left tackle Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder at right tackle in the starting lineup. Tackles Tyler Polumbus and Bryce Harris are on the roster. Pierce Burton is on the practice squad. Also, Lamar Holmes in on reserved/physically unable to perform list.

Polumbus would seem the odd player out if the Falcons elect to sign Long. Also, the team is carrying seven wide receivers and five safeties. That could put Nick Williams, Robenson Therezie or Charles Godfrey in danger.

Long is a four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro selection.

Long, who is recovering from his second ACL tear, was cut by the Rams in March in a salary cap move that saved them $8 million.

Long was once considered one of the best left tackles in the NFL, but the injuries have slowed his career. He has finished each of the past four seasons on injured reserve.

Long left the Dolphins after five seasons to sign a four-year, $34 million deal with the Rams.

7. HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT: Atlanta rapper Yung Joc, a BET Award winner and Grammy nominee, will perform at halftime of the Eagles game. He’s on the Love and Hip Hop Atlanta reality show and I believe he’s the young man with eight kids from four different women. I’m not judging, but . . . .



8. OFFICIAL DEPTH CHART: There’s been a flurry of activity leading up to the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football at 7:10 p.m. at the Georgia Dome.

The biggest move was the trade for Levitre, who was promptly inserted into the starting lineup.

Mike Person, who’s never started a game in the NFL, has won the center battle. He likely faces a challenge from Gino Gradkowski, once he gets situated after being claimed on waivers from Denver.

Running back Tevin Coleman claimed the top spot.

O’Brien Schofield will start at strongside linebacker for the Brooks Reed, who underwent groin surgery and will be inactive for the Eagles’ game.

The offense features five new starters in Levitre, Person, right guard Chris Chester, tight end Jacob Tamme and Coleman.

The defense also features five new starters in end defensive end Vic Beasley, tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, weakside linebacker Justin Durant, strongside linebacker O’Brian Schofield and free safety Ricardo Allen.

Here’s the team’s official depth chart. (We call it the official depth chart because the team sends it out. Of course, coach Dan Quinn reserves the right to make changes. But it’s the official depth chart until he feels like changing it.)

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 79 Tyler Polumbus

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone

C 68 Mike Person, 66 Gino Gradkowski

RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo

WR 84 Roddy White, 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree

RB 26 Tevin Coleman, 24 Devonta Freeman, 33 Terron Ward

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco

DEFENSE

DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann,

DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett

NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux

DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman

LB 52 Justin Durant, 59 Joplo Bartu,

LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 Allen Bradford, 54 Nate Stupar

LB 40 O’Brien Schofield, 56 Brooks Reed

CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 22 Dezmen Southward

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 30 Charles Godfrey, 48 Robenson Therezie

S 25 William Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael

SPECIALISTS

K 3 Matt Bryant

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems

PR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

9. PRACTICE SQUAD: Offensive guard Ben Garland, 27, was signed to the practice squad on Wednesday.

Garland was originally signed by Denver  as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2010 NFL draft out of Air Force. In 2010, the Broncos placed him on the reserve/military list to serve his two-year military commitment. Garland returned in 2012, and spent two years on the Broncos practice squad. Last season, he played in eight games for the Broncos.

Running back Jahwan Edwards was signed to practice squad on Tuesday. He originally signed by the San Diego Chargers as a college free agent after the 2015 NFL draft out of Ball State. He set school records for career rushing yards (4,558), touchdowns (51), points (306) and rushing attempts (884) for the Cardinals.

The Falcons have one more open spot.

LB Derek Akunne, OL Pierce Burton, TE Marcel Jensen, CB Akeem King, LB Stansly Maponga, NT Joey Mbu, QB Matt Simms, LB Tyler Starr and RB Jahwan Edwards.


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