Falcons postcard (cont.)
New Face, New Place
Take your pick. New coach, new QB, new CB, new TE, new RB, but the Falcons also have a new face in old, reliable Broncos kicker Jason Elam. The 38-year-old Elam takes over for 47-year-old Morten Andersen and has a 90 percent field goal conversion rate the past two seasons, which will give the Falcons the threes they need. Plus, Elam grew up in the Atlanta area and is downright giddy to be kicking in a dome after 15 years at Mile High. "I'll sleep well knowing it will be 70 degrees and no wind," he said.
Looking at the Schedule
While most prognosticators are predicting the Falcons to be this year's Dolphins, they could squeak out a few home Ws early and surprise people -- especially Week 1 against the Lions, who have only won once in the Georgia Dome, and in Week 3 versus the Chiefs. Their strength of schedule is in the middle of the pack, and while this will still be a rebuilding year for the Falcons, they won't be as horrendous as people think if they jell early.
Memorable Image From Camp
In the "Oh no he didn't!" moment of camp, rookie wideout Harry Douglas smacked 13-year safety Lawyer Milloy upside the head during a running play in the team's first practice in pads. As an aside, one of my favorite NFL posters from the late '90s had then-Patriots Milloy and Ty Law underneath the heading "The Firm" back when John Grisham was still selling out Barnes and Noble. While some players were impressed with Douglas' bravado, others are waiting for Milloy's eventual retribution for breaking the unwritten respect-the-vets law. It didn't happen Thursday -- Milloy was on the sidelines with a bruised toe.
Rookie Curtis Lofton has taken over the middle linebacker spot, pushing Brooking back to the weakside position, and Brooking couldn't be happier. Four of his five Pro Bowls came when he was playing weakside.
This team has sweet living quarters. Blank built four condo complexes off the far edge of the practice fields four years ago that are only used for training camp. Each player gets his own room in the four-bedroom, two-bath pads, plus access to an amenities building with pool tables, ping pong and Playstations, as well as a lake to fish from off the side and a pool to jump in off the back.
Besides a QB competition there's competition in the secondary. It looks like Chris Houston and Brent Grimes will be the starting cornerbacks. Von Hutchins was the first casualty of camp when he was placed on IR with a sprained foot, leaving Chevis Jackson, Blue Adams and Antoine Harris working for the nickel spot.
Michael "the Burner" Turner gets down and burrows yardage. He could be the real deal this season behind fullback Ovie Mughelli and under Mike Mularkey's scheme, which favors the run.