Falcons to be featured on ‘Hard Knocks’

matt-ryan-julio-jonesThe Atlanta Falcons announced on Thursday that they will be featured on the 2014 edition of “Hard Knocks.”

The Cleveland Browns were believed to be one of the favorites for the HBO original series after drafting Johnny Manziel, but head coach Mike Pettine turned down the chance to appear on the show. First-year coaches cannot be forced to do “Hard Knocks.”

Perhaps the most surprising part about the Falcons’ announcement is that they reportedly volunteered for the show, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Most teams feel that “Hard Knocks” can be a distraction during training camp, and the Falcons had an out from the show since they made the playoffs two seasons ago.

While the Falcons don’t have a whole lot of issues with their roster, they were surprisingly one of the worst team’s in the league last year with a 4-12 record. Atlanta finished 13-3 in 2012, so it will be interesting to see how they progress through training camp in an attempt to get back to being the team they were two years ago.

We’ll also get to see what type of progress Julio Jones is making, as he should be returning soon from a foot injury that forced him to miss most of the 2013 season.

There could certainly be less intriguing teams for “Hard Knocks.” The Falcons should be fun to watch.

Roddy White wants Falcons to draft Jadeveon Clowney or trade their pick

Roddy-White-FalconsRoddy White has been with the Atlanta Falcons for nine seasons, and 2013 was one of the worst. The only positive to come out of Atlanta’s 4-12 season is the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. On Wednesday, White took to Twitter to share his opinion on how the team should use it.

The Falcons are one of just a few teams near the top of the draft that do not need a quarterback. As a result, they should be in line to draft one of the best non-quarterback players in college football. White believes his team should either draft Jadeveon Clowney or trade the pick.

White’s idea really isn’t that far-fetched, though former teammate Brian Finneran does not believe Clowney will be available at No. 6.

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Atlanta Falcons unveil pulled pork, mac and cheese, onion rings sandwich

Atlanta Falcons sandwich

The Atlanta Falcons unveiled this heart attack between buns on Monday, which they say will be available during training camp beginning on July 25. They are asking fans to help name the sandwich.

The sandwich includes pulled pork, applewood bacon, Mac n cheese, coleslaw and two fried onion rings. The team says it weighs over one and a half pounds, but it will only cost fans $5.

The Falcons are asking fans to help name the sandwich by submitting suggestions over Twitter using “#aftcsandwich.” Here’s my suggestion: #looksgoodbutillpass

H/T Hot Clicks

Cam Newton: I’m an Atlanta Falcons fan

Cam-Newton-touchdownSan Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick caused quite the stir earlier this month when he was seen rocking a Miami Dolphins hat and later mocked fans for having an issue with it. Now, Cam Newton is sure to have infuriated Carolina Panthers fans with his own show of affection for an opposing NFL team.

Newton, who grew up in the Atlanta area, admitted during a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via the Charlotte Observer) that he is still an Atlanta Falcons fan.

“It’s always a heavily critiqued game…” he said when asked if it is tough to play the Falcons. “I’ve always been a Falcons fan, and I’m still a Falcons fan except for those two times a year.”

Considering the Panthers and Falcons are division rivals, Atlanta fans will likely cringe when they read the quote. That being said, I wouldn’t put this on the same level as Kaepernick’s hat in terms of loyalty or a lack thereof. Newton has admitted in the past that he grew up idolizing Michael Vick and rooting for the Falcons. Those feelings don’t have to disappear overnight for him to care about winning.

We know how fans can be. There’s a reason people in Atlanta didn’t want their street named after Newton. A couple of years back, Panthers defensive lineman Charles Johnson took it a step further by wearing a Falcons hat and posing with a certain celebrity. That may be a bit much, but there’s nothing wrong with Newton admitting he still has a thing for his favorite team growing up. Most professional athletes do, whether they admit it or not.

H/T Shutdown Corner

Osi Umenyiora: Falcons are ‘most talented team I’ve probably seen in my life’

Osi-UmenyioraOsi Umenyiora was unhappy with the way his role had diminished with the New York Giants over the past couple of seasons, which is why the veteran defensive end seems thrilled to have signed a two-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons. Umenyiora played a significant role on two Super Bowl champion teams in New York, but those teams were not the best he has seen from a talent standpoint. You can probably guess which one is.

“This team is the most talented team that I’ve probably seen in my life,” he said during a press conference on Thursday, according to Around the League.

Is that so? Umenyiora comes from a team that featured a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback in Eli Manning. When healthy, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz make up one of the best receiving duos in football. On defense, New York has a front seven that boasts Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. If the Giants weren’t loaded with talent, Umenyiora probably wouldn’t have had an issue with playing time nor would he have had to accuse the team of making him look bad.

“They had some very good football players there (in New York),” Umenyiora said. “Obviously I wasn’t able to play as much as I’d have liked. There was just no way you could put all of us on the phone at the same time. Statistically, that definitely played a role. You’re only going to be able to produce as much as you’re out there on the football field. I wasn’t able to be out there on the football field as much as I’ve been accustomed to.”

Again, that was probably because the Giants had so much depth and talent. The Falcons are undoubtedly loaded with talented players like Roddy White, Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez. Umenyiora’s comments are simply a bit strange in that he won two championships with that team he refused to mention by name. I believe the scientific term for that is “sour grapes.”

Ray Edwards reportedly defiant during Falcons postgame speech

The Atlanta Falcons waived defensive lineman Ray Edwards earlier in the week, less than two years after signing him to a five-year, $27.5 million deal. Edwards was a disappointment with the Falcons, racking up just 3.5 sacks in 25 games with the team. Now we’re learning that he did something that may have been a factor in his release.

Jay Glazer reported on FOX NFL Sunday that Falcons head coach Mike Smith asked his team to come together for a postgame speech after a Week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Edwards apparently was asked three times to come in for the speech, and he ignored the coach all three times. Glazer says the players had to tell him to bring it in for the speech.

Glazer says the display from Edwards occurred in front of team owner Arthur Blank and GM Thomas Dimitroff. The team is so focused on chemistry, Glazer says they will release a player if they feel like he will be a problem in the locker room. It seems like that’s exactly what happened with Edwards.

We felt from the start that the signing was a reach for Atlanta. Edwards was the beneficiary of playing with excellent teammates in Minnesota. Without Jared Allen and Pat and Kevin Williams next to him, he has failed to be an impact player.

Falcons on Being Called Dirt Bags: Maybe We Should Brand that Nickname

You didn’t expect the Falcons to care that the Giants and other teams have accused them of playing dirty, did you? If playing cheap has helped Atlanta get to the playoffs and kept their Super Bowl hopes alive, they aren’t going to stop now. Chances are Justin Tuck was just looking to work the refs when he called the Falcons offensive line a bunch of dirt bags earlier this week, but the birds aren’t letting it bother them.

“Maybe we should start branding this and make a profit in the New York market,” Falcons tackle Will Svitek joked according to the NY Daily News. “Maybe it’s an opportunity. Who knows (why Tuck said it)? We don’t get upset about it. We might joke about it, the whole dirt bag comment, but who knows? We’re always going to be there. We want them to know we’re there because if you don’t play to the whistle, they’re going to be taking shots. We don’t view it as cheap. We view it as physical. If that’s his point of view, so be it.”

Atlanta is not bothered by the accusations — nor should they be.  I’m not advocating dirty play if they have indeed been playing that way, but you don’t start worrying about your style of play when the playoffs start.

The Giants like to talk, so the Falcons would do well to just keep quiet and let them do their thing.  As cliche as it sounds, the games are won on the field.  The Giants like to try to win them during the week, too.