Falcons Rumors

Latest On Colin Kaepernick Workout

Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed one of the most unique workouts in NFL history this afternoon. The NFL offered to stage a workout for the quarterback earlier this week. However, Kaepernick’s team became weary of the league’s intentions when his representatives were refused in their requests to open the event to the public. In a last minute decision, Kaepernick’s representation moved the event from the Falcons facility to a public location on their own.

Here’s the latest on the workout and its aftermath:

  • When the venue was changed, the NFL released a public statement on NFL.com that expressed they were “disappointed” with Kaepernick’s choice not to participate in the workout they had organized. They claimed “Twenty-five (25) clubs were present for the workout, and all 32 clubs, their head coaches, general managers, and other personnel executives would have received video footage of the interview and workout.” The league also felt the need to note they “made considerable effort to work cooperatively with Colin’s representatives,” among a list of other points that attempted to counter some narratives that the league had been purposely opaque in their negotiations.
  • The league also tweeted out from the league’s official account a thread reiterating some main points from the press release. One key point from the league’s perspective, “Colin moved his workout to a facility an hour from Atlanta Falcons Flowery Branch facility. No one got a heads up until NFL saw the Twitter statement.”
  • Former Raiders and Browns head coach Hue Jackson was scheduled to run the workout orchestrated by the NFL. However, while Kaepernick’s team invited Jackson to run the workout at the new venue, Jackson returned to the airport, according to Michael Silver of NFL.com.
  • WR Bruce Ellington, WR Brice Butler, WR Jordan Veasy, TE/WR Ari Werts, and Panthers S Eric Reid were on the field with Kaepernick for the workout, according to Kaylee Harung of ABC News. The free-agent receivers were likely hoping to catch the eyes of scouts present to view Kaepernick, while Reid has been one of the most consistent advocated for Kaepernick in the league.
  • One claim in the announcement made by Kaepernick’s representatives was that the league required he sign an agreement that included language to limit his ability to bring claims against the league. Of course, given Kaepernick’s previous collusion lawsuit against the league, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk argues the workout was a ploy by the league to put Kaepernick “in legal checkmate.”
  • In the end, there were not nearly as many teams present at Kaepernick’s workout as the NFL claimed would have been present for the workout they had planned. The Washington football team, Eagles, 49ers, Chiefs, Jets, Titans, and Lions were the teams present for his workout, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
  • The 2-hour workout was streamed on YouTube and consistently maintained roughly 45,000 viewers. On the field, one NFL executive described Kaepernick’s arm talent as “elite” and on the same level as “when he came out of college,” according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
  • Teams that had personnel present for the workout noted that the workout consisted of 60 throws and “Basically showed he’s the same guy he was,” according to Albert Breer of MMQB. After the workout, Kaepernick did not hold any formal interviews, but in his closing remarks said he would hold an interview with any team. He also thanked his fans for their support and reiterated, “I’ve been ready. I’m staying ready. And I’ll continue to be ready….The ball’s in their court. We’re ready to go.”

Falcons’ Austin Hooper To Miss 4 Games?

Falcons tight end Austin Hooper is expected to miss roughly one month of action with a knee injury, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Hooper presently leads all tight ends in catches, but he’s unlikely to finish with that mantle after sitting out several games in the second half of the season.

Hooper was forced out of Sunday’s game after hauling in four passes for 17 yards, including one touchdown catch. To date, he has 56 catches for 608 yards and six scores, positioning him as one of the best young TEs in the game today.

The Falcons, meanwhile, are 2-7, with no real shot at the postseason (less than 1%, according to FiveThirtyEight). By the time Hooper heals up, it might not behoove the Falcons to put him back on the field for the final three games of the year.

Without Hooper, the Falcons are expected to move forward with Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham as their primary TEs. They might also add another TE to the mix, if they can find room on the 53-man roster. If they’re able to squeeze in a TE, Carson Meier could be a candidate for promotion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/12/19

Today’s practice squad updates:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

New York Giants

South Notes: Gipson, Quinn, Thomas, Ryan

Texans safety Tashaun Gipson is expected to return to the lineup this week, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Gipson has missed the team’s previous two games after sustaining a back injury in Week 7. Houston has won both games without their starting safety, but set to go up against the Ravens and their dynamic offense, the team hopes to be as close to full strength as possible.

Here’s some more notes from the NFC and AFC South:

  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has relinquished defensive play-calling duties, according to Darin Gantt of NBC Sports. It appears that assistant head coach Raheem Morris and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich are now responsible for sharing the duties. Given Atlanta’s atrocious start to the season defensively, it makes sense that the staff decided to make a change. While the team remains just 2-7 on the season, they are coming off their strongest performance of the season in a dominating 26-9 victory against the Saints.
  • Two AFC South rivals could be welcoming back some depth in the coming weeks. Texans tight end Jordan Thomas and Jaguars linebacker Jake Ryan have both returned to practice for their respective teams, according to Howard Balzer. Both players were placed on the injured reserve with a designation to return earlier this season. They will now be allowed to practice for up to 21 days before they must be added to the 53-man roster or must return to the injured reserve for the remainder of the year.

Falcons’ Freeman, Hooper Suffer Injuries

The Falcons came away with the win on Sunday, but it could prove to be costly. Tight end Austin Hooper and running back Devonta Freeman both suffered injuries in the victory over the rival Saints, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter links). 

Hooper, the league’s leader at the tight end position with 56 catches, will get an MRI on his knee. Freeman, meanwhile, will be getting a scan on his sprained foot. Hooper is expected to miss some time and Freeman’s situation is being closely monitored.

Hooper is in the midst of a breakout season. Hooper, 25, was forced out of Sunday’s game after hauling in four passes for 17 yards, including one touchdown reception. To date, he has 56 catches for 608 yards and six scores, positioning him as one of the best young TEs in the game today.

It sounds like Hooper will miss Sunday’s game against the Panthers and then some. Given the Falcons’ 2-7 record and Hooper’s importance to the team moving forward, one has to wonder if they might take the cautious approach and keep him off the field for the rest of the season, if there’s a possibility of aggravating the injury.

Freeman, meanwhile, hasn’t been having a banner year, but he remains an important figure in the Falcons’ offense. So far this year, he has averaged just 3.5 yards per carry.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Fuller, Quinn, Leftwich

The Texans are hopeful that wide receiver Will Fuller will be able to retake the field next week in Baltimore against the Ravens, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. Fuller has missed the team’s previous two games after suffering a hamstring injury against the Colts.

Fuller is one of the best deep threats in football, especially when he takes the field opposite of all-pro DeAndre Hopkins. Prior to his injury, Fuller was on pace to eclipse 70 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career. Those marks may be unattainable now, but at 6-3, the Texans are in the thick of the AFC playoff picture coming out of their bye. Fuller would surely aid them in their pursuit of a Super Bowl title.

Here’s more from the NFC and AFC South:

  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has been firmly on the hot-seat for many weeks. However, after a dominating victory over the Saints on Sunday, Quinn has bought himself at least a temporary reprieve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Just a few seasons away from a Super Bowl appearance, this year has fallen far short of expectations, especially on defense. However, New Orleans potent offense looked overwhelmed for much of the game.
  • After a 30-27 victory in a shootout against the Cardinals, the Buccaneers offense continues to produce in spit of Jameis Winston‘s propensity for turnovers. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich deserves a large amount of credit as the playcaller, however, he almost never got the responsibilities in the first place. In the offseason, head coach Bruce Arians had to convince ownership that someone other than him should call plays, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times.

Dan Quinn Being Evaluated On Week-To-Week Basis

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is probably on the hottest seat of any HC at the moment, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says Quinn is being evaluated on a week-to-week basis (video link). That means that, if things go “horribly wrong” for Atlanta on Sunday, Quinn may be relieved of his duties shortly thereafter.

And, given that the 1-7 Falcons are 13-point underdogs to the 7-1 Saints this afternoon — and given that the game is in New Orleans — it’s not difficult to envision things going horribly wrong. Rapoport says Falcons owner Arthur Blank will use the Saints game to help him make a decision with respect to Quinn, so it sounds as if Quinn could hang onto his job for another week if his team puts up a good fight against New Orleans. But, if the Falcons lay another egg, Quinn could get the axe.

Atlanta’s defense, which is supposedly Quinn’s specialty, has been non-existent, and it’s currently ranked near the bottom of the league in just about every defensive category, allowing almost 400 yards of total offense per game. The Falcons had their bye last week but lost their sixth straight game the week before.

Quinn is currently in his fifth season and led Atlanta to the Super Bowl after the 2016 regular season, though an epic collapse during the Super Bowl denied the franchise of its first Lomabrdi Trophy. The Falcons posted a 10-6 record the following year, but it has been a downhill slide ever since. Even if Quinn makes it through the rest of 2019, he is widely expected to be fired in the offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Place RB Ito Smith On IR

For the second straight season, Ito Smith will land on the injured reserve. The Falcons announced today that they’ve placed the running back on the injured reserve (via the team’s website). Atlanta promoted offensive lineman Sean Harlow from the practice squad to take the open roster spot.

Smith, a 2018 fourth-round pick, was expected to play a bigger role in the Falcons’ backfield following Tevin Coleman‘s move to the 49ers. However, he’s seen even less work during his sophomore campaign; after rushing for 315 yards and four touchdowns on 90 carries last season (14 games), he’s only compiled 106 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries this year (seven games). He’s also hauled in 11 receptions for 87 yards this season, which is about on pace with his rookie numbers.

With Smith sidelined, the Falcons will likely turn to former fifth-rounder Brian Hill. The 24-year-old has appeared in four games this season, rushing eight times for 40 yards and one touchdown. The Falcons are also rostering Kenjon Barner and Qadree Ollison.

Harlow was a fourth-round pick by the Falcons back in 2017, but he hasn’t seen the field during two stints with the organization. Offensive lineman Wes Schweitzer was ruled out of Sunday’s game with a concussion, and coach Dan Quinn told Will McFadden of AtlantaFalcons.com that Harlow could somewhat replace his injured teammate’s versatility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 11/5/19

Today’s workout notes:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • OL Brandon Hitner

Cincinnati Bengals

Miami Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/5/19

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: CB Marcus Sherels, RB De’Lance Turner (off Ravens’ practice squad)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Activated from PUP: G Phil Haynes
  • Waived: WR Gary Jennings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers