Good morning! Welcome to The Cover 9@9 blog. It’s our weekly blog of everything you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons, the defending NFC Champions will play the Pittsburgh Steelers at 4 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field.
1. Bosher’s corner. Punter Matt Bosher is set to enter his seventh season with the Falcons.
He’s coming off back to back season of finishing in the top 10 for punting average. His 46.8 average was eighth in the league last season and he finished sixth at 47.2 in 2015.
He’s also the rare punter who handles the kickoffs.
Bosher’s had 525 kickoffs, for 33,429 yards for an average kickoff of 63.7. He’s had 112 touchbacks for a 21.8 touchback percentage, according to John Turnery of the Pro Football Journal.
“Our goals are always the same,” Bosher said. “We always want to make sure that we pin the opponent inside the 25. Obviously, with touchbacks that changes it because the ball is going to come out. I’m just out there trying to do my part so my other 10 guys out there with me can get their jobs done as well.”
With training camp over, Bosher is ramping up his preparation for the regular season.
“It’s been a fun training camp, that’s for sure,” Bosher said. “(Dan Quinn) always stresses being competitive in everything that we do, not just on the field but off the field. We compete in everything.”
“Especially for my position with myself, (long snapper) Josh (Harris) and (kicker Matt) Bryant, we have to compete ourselves and with other guys coming in,” Bosher said. “Against other teams. We are touching the ball every time we are out of the field so we have to make sure that we get our job done so that the Brotherhood can keep it going.”
2. Andersen’s legacy. Bosher was happy to see Morten Andersen get enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Bosher noted that Andersen spoke of the importance of the snap, hold and kick during his career.
“Let me knock on wood first, but honestly, it’s just repetition,” Bosher said. “It’s something that you have to make sure that your rep all-day, every day. It’s kind of one of those muscle memory things. The more you rep it, in every situations, whether if it’s windy, rainy, sunny…it doesn’t matter. We’ve been there and we’ve done it.
“We’ve done it in 95 degrees. We’ve done it in negative 20 degrees. It doesn’t change. It’s always the same snap. The same hold and the same kick.”
3. Rookie corner. Rookie tight Eric Saubert has flashed his pass catching hands throughout training camp.
He played 36 offensive snaps and 19 plays on special teams. He caught a pass for minus one yard and had a holding penalty that eliminated Reggie Davis’s dazzling punt return.
“After this past game there’s a lot of stuff on tape and I have to get back to the drawing board and work on those things that I may have made a mistake on,” Saubert said. “There’s a lot of work to do this week and I’m excited to get back out here.”
Saubert is trying to make the jump for Drake to the NFL.
“Obviously, it’s way faster,” Saubert said “Everybody is really good. You really have to rely on your technique and your coaching.
“Sometimes when the speed of the game gets to you, you fall back to some bad tendencies. So, I’m trying to re-enforce good coaching and good technique this week.”
Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo were helping Saubert from the sideline against the Dolphins.
He received some coaching pointers on his open-field blocking, too.
“It’s a learning point,” Saubert said. “All you have to do is learn. The ref said he got outside of me. I just had to watch it on tape. I just have to know when to back off there. It was a learning moment.”
4. Practice schedule. The Falcons hold practice at 2:20 p.m. today. Falcons coach Dan Quinn will speak to the media before practice at 1:30 p.m.
5. Stadium tour: Several members of the media toured the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday.
6. Local flavor. Five rookies who played at Georgia schools are trying to break into NFL with the Atlanta Falcons this season.
7. Repeat predicted: After making it to the Super Bowl last season, the Atlanta Falcons are predicted to win the NFC South for a second-straight year.
8. Dobbs’ NFL debut. Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Joshua Dobbs, formerly of Tennessee and Alpharetta High, fought through some tough times in his NFL debut on Friday.
Dobbs, and the Steelers, are set to host the Atlanta Falcons at 4 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field.
Dobbs, starting for the Steelers, completed 8 of 15 passes for 100 yards and one touchdown in a 20-12 victory over the New York Giants. He had two interceptions, was sacked three times and finished with quarterback rating of 56.9.
But longtime Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette raved about a couple of deep throws by Dobbs, who graduated with his degree in aerospace engineering.
Quarterback Josh Dobbs, who started, was shaky early with two interceptions and some questionable scrambles, but he did throw a gorgeous 28-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton and had another scoring pass scratched by a holding penalty.
Dobbs was selected in the fourth-round of the draft. The same round the Cowboys found Dak Prescott last season as NFL scouts have traditionally struggled with their quarterback projections: Manning vs. Leaf; Ryan vs. Flacco and Chad Henne, Goff vs. Wentz and Trubisky vs. Watson.
With Ben Roethlisberger inching toward retirement, the Steelers are trying to find out if they have a future starter in Dobbs.
Here’s what we wrote for Dobbs’ combine capsule:
Could he be this year’s Dak Prescott? Over 37 games, Dobbs completed 614 of 999 passes for 7,138 yards. He also rushed for 2,160 yards and 32 touchdowns as he led a Rocky Top revival. Finished Tennessee career with a 23-12 record (including 3-0 in bowls) as starting quarterback, tying Condredge Holloway (1972-74) for the fifth-most wins by starting quarterback. Set school record for career rushing yards by a quarterback (2,160), career rushing touchdowns by a QB (32), single-season rushing yards by a quarterback (831 in 2016) and single-season rushing touchdowns by a QB (12 in 2016). NFLDraftScout has Dobbs rated as the 10th best quarterback in the draft and are projected that he’ll be drafted in the seventh round.
It’s not hard to root for a kid with a aerospace engineering degree. He should be able to prove that football isn’t exactly rocket science.
9. Depth chart. Ben Garland remains listed with the first-team at right guard in the second official depth chart released by the Falcons on Monday.
Garland and Wes Schweitzer have been rotating with the first-team offense for the offseason and training camp. The Falcons must replace Chris Chester, who retired over the offseason.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn and offensive line coach Chris Morgan said the battle will continue through the exhibition games. Both Garland and Schweitzer played well in the opener against Miami, but no “clarity” was given about the position, Quinn said.
The Falcons are set to play at the Pittsburgh Steelers at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Running back Devonta Freeman (concussion) and defensive end Martin Ifedi (ankle) have been declared out for the game.
(The team calls it ‘s depth chart ‘unofficial,” but since they release it, that makes it official.)
Here’s the depth chart:
WR 11 Julio Jones 14 Justin Hardy, 19 Andre Roberts, 7 Josh Magee, 87 Deante Burton, 84 Reginald Davis III
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Daniel Brunskill, 79 Will Freeman. 68 Marquis Lucas
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 64 Sean Harlow, 61 Travis Averill
C 51 Alex Mack, 72 Cornelius Edison, 62 Larson Graham
RG 63 Ben Garland, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 66 Kevin Graf, 75 Andreas Knappe,74 D.J. Tialavea
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Levine Toilolo, 82 Joshua Perkins, 83 Darion Griswold, 85 Eric Saubert, 89 Alex Gray
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Taylor Gabriel, 15 Nick Williams, 17 Marvin Hall, 16 Anthony Dable, 1 Reggie Davis, 88 Bra’Lon Cherry
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 4 Matt Simms, 9 Alek Torgersen
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward, 25 Brian Hill, 38 Kelvin Taylor, 35 B.J. Daniels
FB 40 Derrick Coleman, 39 Tyler Renew
*Taylor was not listed in the released. He was added.
DE 50 Brooks Reed, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 98 Takk McKinley, 55 J’Terius Jones
DT 92 Dontari Poe, 95 Jack Crawford, 74 Taniela Tupou
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 92 Joe Vellano
DE 91 Courtney Upshaw, 90 Derrick Shelby, 93 Chris Odum, 96 Martin Ifedi
LB 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 43 Jack Lynn
LB 45 Deion Jones. 53 LaRoy Reynolds, 56 Jermaine Grace
LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 42 Duke Riley, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 52 Josh Keyes
RCB 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 38 Akeem King, 39 Jarnor Jones
LCB21 Desmond Trufant, 34 Brian Poole, 30 Deji Olatoye, 48 Jordan Moore, 32 Jalen Collins
FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 20 Sharrod Neasman, 27 Damonte Kazee, 41 Quincy Mauger
SS 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 35 Marcelis Branch, 49 Daron Washington
K 3 Matt Bryant, 6 Mike Meyer
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 19 Andre Roberts, 14 Justin Hardy, 1 Reggie Davis
PR 19 Andre Roberts, 14 Justin Hardy, 15 Nick Williams
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher
2017 ATLANTA FALCONS 90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS