News & Notes: What Can Brown Do for Falcons?

News & Notes: What Can Brown Do for Falcons?

Running back Thomas Brown, who was injured in the Falcons' final exhibition game last season, was making a case to make the roster. He was the victim of a horse-collar tackle by Baltimore's Gary Stills that resulted in an upper leg/groin injury that landed him on the team's injured reserve list and out for the season.

Things started as a simple running play to the sideline. Brown turned the corner and was accelerating for extra yardage.

"A guy came out of nowhere and grabbed me by the back of my jersey," Brown said. "He was obviously on the way down. His body weight carried him along with his momentum.

"I was in an upright position, and my right leg was planted. He just bent me all the way back to where the back of my head was almost touching the ground and my leg was still straight."

Brown was a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 and a longshot to make the team, but his play from scrimmage and on kickoff returns had him in the hunt for a roster spot.

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Brown "was positioning himself to have a chance" to make the roster when the injury occurred. Despite the setback, Brown impressed the coaching staff by hanging around, attending running back meetings and film sessions.

"He's a very hard working guy, and I think he'll be in the mix when we start to talk about our 53-man roster (for 2009)," Smith said.

The Falcons carried only four running backs on the roster last season. Most teams usually have five, and the Falcons currently have six on their expanded offseason roster.

From a glance at the roster, it appears that Brown is the third tailback behind Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood, while Verron Haynes is the third fullback behind Ovie Mughelli and Jason Snelling. A depth chart won't be posted until training camp or later.

"Training camp is a ways away, but Thomas has had a good mini-camp," running backs coach Gerald Brown said. "He's doing good things for us in the OTAs. He always comes to work."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

Defensive end John Abraham, who set a franchise record with 16.5 sacks last season, is not participating in the non-mandatory organized team activities. That's just fine with the Falcons coach Mike Smith. Abraham has found an offseason routine that's allowed him to make all 17 starts last season. He's doing his offseason core maintenance program.

With Abraham missing OTAs, the Falcons can give more snaps to Jamaal Anderson, Kroy Biermann, Chauncey Davis and fourth-round draft pick Lawrence Sidbury.

"John is one of the smartest guys in the league," defensive line coach Ray Hamilton said. "We are just going to hold John (out). We drafted a guy in the fourth round. We just want to look at some of these young guys."

--Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Mayor Shirley Franklin attended the grand opening ceremony for Vine City Park near the Georgia Dome. More than 100 volunteers from the Blank Family of Businesses and Park Pride did work at three area parks for a day of community service. Throughout the morning, the volunteers provided a helping hand to revitalize and beautify nearby Vine City Park, Washington Park and Cleopas Johnson Park.

Among the volunteers, Falcons head coach Mike Smith and president Rich McKay led their team in renovations to Cleopas Johnson Park, and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff will work at Washington Park.

--Rookie cornerback William Middleton, a fifth-round draft pick from Furman, suffered a hamstring injury in organized team activities. "He pulled a hammy in a pass coverage drill," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. Middleton, 5-11, 186 pounds, was the 125th pick overall in the NFL draft.

Some of the veterans not in attendance at the optional workouts were defensive end John Abraham, kicker Jason Elam, tackle Quinn Ojinnaka and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux. "I know where every one of them is," Smith said. "I'm not taking attendance, but the principal is aware of it. We've talked to every one of them. Again, these are organized team activities that are optional."

--Tight end Tony Gonzalez did take part in this week's session open to the media. "Tony had a good day," Smith said. "He made some tough catches. Like al
l of our guys, he's worked very hard in setting the foundation as we move forward to training camp."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The holding rules in college are not as (liberal) as the holding rules in the NFL. The biggest thing with rookie defensive linemen is making sure that they know how to use their hands." -- Falcons defensive line coach Ray Hamilton on working with first-round draft pick Peria Jerry.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Brent Grimes opened the season as the starter at right cornerback. The former undrafted free agent from Shippensburg State had his moments before succumbing to injury. He had an interception against Kansas City in Week Two, but things never got any better. He eventually recovered from the hamstring injury but Domonique Foxworth had taken over his position.

With Foxworth now in Baltimore, Grimes has ascended back to the No. 1 spot, but will face a stiff challenge from Chevis Jackson, Von Hutchins and possibly rookie Chris Owens. Grimes is having a solid offseason and appears ready for what should be the biggest battle of training camp.

"He's a more confident player, without a doubt," coach Mike Smith said. "He's the most athletic player on our team. He has got a lot more confidence this season in knowing our system and being around (defensive coordinator) Brian (VanGorder) and the defensive coaching staff."

MEDICAL NOTES: Rookie first-round pick defensive tackle Peria Jerry suffered a mild right knee sprain during mini-camp, but return to the OTA session last week.
--CB Von Hutchins (broken foot) is expected to return for some action during Organized Team Activities.
--CB David Irons (knee) is expected back late in training camp.
--OL Alex Stepanovich (back) is expected back by training camp.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: P/K Michael Koenen: Tendered at $2.483M; signed tender Feb. 17.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--OT Wayne Gandy.
--SS Lawyer Milloy.
--TE Marcus Pollard.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)
--OT Pat McCoy (not tendered as RFA).

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--RT Tyson Clabo (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) has started for last two seasons and played with mean streak.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--OL Renardo Foster.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--OG Harvey Dahl: RFA; $1.545M/1 yr.
--DE Chauncey Davis: UFA; $14M/4 yrs, guarantee unknown.
--S Jamaal Fudge: Potential RFA; terms unknown.
--LB Tony Gilbert: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Brent Grimes: ERFA; terms unknown.
--S Antoine Harris: ERFA; terms unknown.
--DT Jason Jefferson: UFA; terms unknown.
--P/K Michael Koenen: FFA; $2.483M/1 yr.
--TE Justin Peelle: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
--RB Jason Snelling: ERFA; terms unknown.
--C/G Ben Wilkerson (not tendered as RFA); $535,000/1 yr.
--LB Coy Wire: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--TE Tony Gonzalez (trade Chiefs).
--MLB Mike Peterson: UFA Jaguars; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--C Brett Romberg: UFA Rams; terms unknown.
--OT Will Svitek: FA; terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST
--LB Michael Boley: UFA Giants; $25M/5 yrs, $11M guaranteed.
--LB Keith Brooking: UFA Cowboys; $6M/3 yrs, $2.5M guaranteed.
--CB Domonique Foxworth: UFA Ravens; $27.2M/4 yrs, $4M SB/$3.38 report bonus/$16.5M guaranteed.
--DE Simon Fraser (released).
--DT Grady Jackson: UFA Lions; $8M/3 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--DT Kindal Moorehead (released).
--WR Laurent Robinson (traded Rams).
--LT Todd Weiner (retired).

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