Welcome back readers. It’s time for our weekly dose of Atlanta Falcons “Bird Droppings”. Little tid-bits, rants, factoids, and snippets from around the Falcons camp and the rest of the NFL.
The Falcons signed second-round draft pick Peter Konz to a four-year, $3.58 million deal on Sunday. The deal includes a $1.05 million signing bonus. Konz spent most of the rookie minicamp this weekend taking snaps at right guard, as well as a few at center. Having that kind of versatility is going to serve Konz well once full blown training camp begins, and the competition becomes fierce. At the end of the first day of practice, Konz did his version of the “Dirty Bird” dance, stating: “I’m bringing back the Dirty Bird”. Paging Mr. Santiago…Mr. O.J. Santiago, please report to Flowery Branch…STAT!
Rumors are flying around that the Falcons might be a dark horse in the race to land New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Not likely in my humble opinion, for several reasons. First, is money. The Falcons have had a windfall of cash lately with the $3 million credit from Michael Vick‘s contract, and another $3 million that was freed up after releasing fullback Ovie Mughelli. But GM Thomas Dimitroff has other plans for that money, not to mention it would take more draft picks than the Falcons are probably willing to give up to wrestle Umenyiora away from the Giants. Second, Umenyiora is becoming a distraction to the Giants with his constant public chirping to the press, and the last thing Atlanta needs is a possible locker room distraction. Besides, if the Falcons want a disgruntled pass rusher who could possibly lead to locker room issues, they can get Albert Haynesworth for a song.
Fifth-round draft pick Jonathan Massaquoi lost 15 pounds before reporting to the Falcons rookie minicamp. Massaquoi weighed around 260 pounds when he led the Sun Belt Conference in sacks in 2010, but last season he peaked at about 275 pounds. Head coach Mike Smith said Massaquoi’s weight loss was by design. “We felt that looking at him as a junior and then looking at his senior tape he looked to be heavier as a senior,” Smith said Saturday. “He played a little bit lighter as a junior when he had more production. His weight is down and he looks a lot leaner than he did as a senior.” The Falcons hope that lighter “Mass” will hopefully lead to larger sack numbers.
While we are on the subject of weight, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has apparently been in the weight room bulking up for the upcoming season. With new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter bringing a renewed emphasis to the vertical passing game, Ryan has decided to make sure he’s prepared for the change. “I’ve been working hard on that and getting with (director of athletic performance) Jeff Fish now that we’re back to make sure that I’m ready to go,” Ryan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “(I’m) ready to be strong in December and January. I want to be able to play my best football at that time. That’s one of the things I’ve tried to figure out and analyze myself; how do I get myself to be playing my very best, when your very best is needed. I’m still working on getting there.” So come January, don’t be surprised if you hear calls of “RYAN SMASH!” coming from the huddle.
The Falcons signed former Georgia tight end Aron White to a free agent contract after completion of rookie minicamp. White tweeted “I’m officially a Falcon after this weekend tryout!” I’m wondering if the plans for the new stadium are to include hedges around the playing field. If so, Someone should warn White. Related: The Falcons will take out additional insurance on the Falcons Drumline if White makes the 45-man roster this season.