Welcome back, everyone, to our weekly installment of 1st And Goal, in which we hit the four hottest topics regarding everyone's favorite franchise straight out of Flowery Branch!
By now everyone knows about WR Roddy White appearing at former Falcons QB Michael Vick's 30th birthday party in Newport News, Virginia on Thursday. He left before the shooting of Quanis Phillips, one of the co-defendants in Vick's dogfighting case of three years ago, that occurred at 2am on Friday morning. White was also an attendee at Vick's football camp earlier that day at Hampton University.
Jonathan Feinsod spoke to White’s mother and she said Roddy was fine. He wasn’t sure if White was in Virginia or back in Atlanta, but he was not present at the time of the shooting.
“Roddy is pretty loyal to his friends,” Feinsod said on Friday to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m sure he wasn’t involved in anything.”
This speaks to a larger issue, not so much about White, but about Vick. Even though he is considered persona non grata in Atlanta, he still seems to be around trouble wherever he goes. White has stated that he remains loyal to his friends, and there's nothing wrong with that, but you have to wonder if hanging out with someone who still hasn't learned his lesson about being around people of ill repute is wise at this juncture.
White, for the most part, has been a good soldier after last season's contract negotiations, and is on the cusp of being mentioned among the NFL's best at wide receiver with the Falcons about to have a breakout year. That said, White would probably be wise to avoid putting himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Moving on from Roddy-related news, Coach Mike Smith talked glowingly about the progress of third year QB Matt Ryan. He discussed how Ryan has studied the elite quarterbacks in this league and how he looks to emulate their footwork and accuracy. Accuracy was especially important to Ryan, as he dropped to 66.8 on passes of 21-plus yards in 2009.
Ryan has shown a maturation process at QB that will continue to develop as GM Thomas Dimitroff continues to surround him with veteran talent that will take his game to the next level. Ryan has shown that he can make smart decisions with the ball and throw only when necessary.
He is always about football, first, last, and foremost. Falcons fans will never have to worry about Ryan skipping practice to focus on his golf game (Romo), holding up his team's progress by waffling on his future (Favre), or having a fight in an after-hours strip club (Vince Young).
Let's hope that rookie QBs coming into the league will emulate Matt Ryan in the future.
The Atlanta Falcons signed third-round pick (98th overall) guard Mike Johnson this week. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Johnson, 6-foot-6, 304 pounds, started 41 consecutive games along the University Alabama offensive line and set the school record by appearing in 54 career contests. He was a member of the Crimson Tide’s 2009 National Championship team while blocking for Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram.
He brings much-needed depth to a line that took a hit with injuries last season. This now leaves only first-round linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and fifth-round wide receiver Kerry Meier as unsigned.
This shows a commitment by Dimitroff to make sure his rookies get into camp as soon as possible. I don't think it will be long for the last two unsigned rookies to get their contracts as well. Having your full roster signed and ready to go speaks to the changed culture of this franchise, which we will discuss in the near future.