Falcons RB Ito Smith appears set to play against Titans
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons backup running back Ito Smith appears set to play against the Tennessee Titans after returning from a concussion.
Colts’ improving defense faces tall task against Falcons
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II understands this week's challenge each time he pops in an Atlanta Falcons tape.
All-America Watch: Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy off to fast start
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jerry Jeudy couldn't pass up the chance to work out with one of the NFL's best receivers, a guy he has been watching since high school.
Falcons Preview Capsule
ATLANTA FALCONS (7-9)
New faces: OG James Carpenter, OG Jamon Brown, DE Adrian Clayborn, SS J.J. Wilcox, S Chris Cooper, S Afolabi Laguda, DE Chris Odom, DT Tyeler Davison, OT John Wetzel,...
Ridley still sidelined with sore hamstring
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley missed practice Saturday and will need longer to recover from a tweaked hamstring.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley left practice with right hamstring tightness Thursday morning, but the injury is not considered serious.
Falcons agree to 1-year deal with WR Justin Hardy
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to a one-year deal with wide receiver Justin Hardy.
Georgia’s Holyfield, Hardman, Ridley, Nauta enter NFL draft
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia's offense was hit with a four-player exodus of juniors to the NFL on Friday that took away the team's top three receivers and second-leading rusher.
Tailback Elijah Holyfield, tight end Isaac Nauta and wide receivers Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman announced Friday they are skipping their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft.
Falcons’ Julio Jones returns, expected to play at Packers
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — After missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with a foot injury, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had limited participation on Friday and is expected to play in Sunday's game at Green Bay.
Jones was removed from Atlanta's injury report.
Backup tight end Logan Paulsen was ruled out with knee and ankle injuries. Kicker Matt Bryant is questionable with a back injury.
Falcons consider OL changes to find protection for QB Ryan
ATLANTA (AP) — Changes are being considered on Atlanta's offensive line after Matt Ryan was sacked six times in the latest of the Falcons' three straight losses.
Coach Dan Quinn said Friday backup linemen Zane Beadles and Ty Sambrailo could have bigger roles as the Falcons try to find better protection for Ryan and improved run blocking.
Falcons linebacker Deion Jones ruled out against Saints
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones has been ruled out of Thursday night's game at the New Orleans Saints.
Jones came off injured reserve last week after missing two months with a broken right foot. He was inactive against Dallas last Sunday.
Coach Dan Quinn said earlier in the week the goal was to have Jones regain full confidence in his foot so he could take advantage of his full potential.
Motivated by critics, WR Kirk off to good start in NFL
TEM PE, Ariz. (AP) — Too small, too slow. Christian Kirk is well aware of what critics said to him going into this year's NFL draft.
They're right in front of him every day as he leaves home.
"I have a blackboard at my house that has it all written up," he said. "It's all right where I leave for the door every day."
He hasn't forgotten that five receivers were drafted ahead of him.
"I thought I was the best and I'm out to prove that," Kirk said.
Falcons wide receivers Sanu, Ridley active against Giants
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu are active for Monday night's game against the New York Giants after being listed as limited on the last injury report.
Ridley has an ankle injury and Sanu is dealing with a hip injury.
The Giants are without wide receivers Russell Shepard (neck) and Jawill Davis (concussion). The Giants have added receiver Quandree Henderson to their active roster.
Grady Jarrett cleared to return after missing 2 games
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Falcons coach Dan Quinn says defensive tackle Grady Jarrett has been cleared to play after an ankle injury sidelined him for two games.
Jarrett, the team's best interior lineman, will start Monday night when Atlanta (2-4) hosts the New York Giants (1-5). Reserve end Derrick Shelby, out since Week 2 with a groin injury, is also expected to return.
Falcons have gone from high hopes to major disappointment
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Calvin Ridley is going through quite an adjustment.
During his college days at Alabama, he hardly knew what it was like to lose.
"It was three games, right?" Ridley said Wednesday, pausing briefly to ponder whether his memory was correct. "Three games," he repeated, shaking his head. "That's crazy."
The receiver already has tasted more defeat in his rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons.
FANTASY PLAYS: Players to start and sit for Week 4
Quarterback play has dominated the fantasy football scene during the first three weeks, which, in turn, has not led to fruitful results from the majority of running backs who were selected long before the first passer came off the boards.
Outside of Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara, most of the high-end backs need a fantasy wake-up call, and several should be able to answer in Week 4.
Ridley’s breakout game gives Falcons another big-play threat
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Opposing coaches have a new reason to reconsider making Calvin Ridley the third priority in defensive plans against the Atlanta Falcons' passing game.
FANTASY PLAYS: Targeting Niners-Chargers and Colts-Texans
For the third straight week this NFL season, game stacking — playing three or more players from the same game — was an effective way to win daily fantasy tournaments.
The logic is that when a matchup turns into a shootout, there's a lot of back and forth from each team, leading to high fantasy point totals for multiple players.
Falcons rookie WR Ridley riddles Saints for 3 TDs in loss
ATLANTA (AP) — Calvin Ridley set a Falcons rookie record with three touchdown receptions among a bunch of big plays — in a bittersweet afternoon for the young wide receiver.
After barely factoring in Atlanta's first two games, he was targeted a team-high eight times, caught a team-best seven passes and registered a game-high 146 yards. It wasn't enough, though, because Drew Brees's half-yard sneak pushed the New Orleans Saints to a 43-37 overtime victory Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons keep all 6 draft picks, 3 undrafted rookies
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons trimmed their roster for the regular season, keeping all six draft picks and three other rookie free agents.
Strong performances in the preseason earned offensive lineman Matt Gono, linebacker Richard Dewey Jarvis and defensive lineman Justin Zimmer spots on the 52-player roster announced Saturday.
Falcons Preview Capsule
ATLANTA FALCONS (11-7)
New faces: OG Brandon Fusco, rookie WR Calvin Ridley, DT Terrell McClain, rookie DT Deadrin Senat, TE Logan Paulsen, FB Ricky Ortiz, CB Justin Bethel, QB coach Greg Knapp, RB coach Bernie Parmalee.
Key losses: DT Dontari Poe, DE Adrian Clayborn, WR Taylor Gabriel, FB Derrick Coleman, TE Levine Toilolo.
Receivers will have big roles in Alabama-Louisville matchup
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Success for the quarterbacks in the matchup between top-ranked Alabama and Louisville will likely depend on the receivers they'll be throwing to.
The wide receivers could be the most closely watched players when the teams meet Sept. 1 in Orlando, Florida.
Jones is not only Atlanta’s star receiver, he’s a mentor
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — It was just another routine throw in practice, a rookie quarterback tossing the ball to a rookie receiver.
When the two failed to connect, Julio Jones stepped in.
QB Matt Ryan looks to regain his MVP form with Falcons
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Matt Ryan is eager to regain his MVP form with the Atlanta Falcons.
It sure seems possible with Julio Jones in camp, first-round pick Calvin Ridley ready to make an impact and — perhaps most important — a full season in the books with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
While Ryan put up his seventh straight year with more than 4,000 yards through the air, he didn't come close to matching the best season of his career under previous coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Falcons hoping for big return on big investment in offense
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Ricardo Allen began listing the weapons on the Atlanta Falcons' offense and shook his head.
Wide receivers Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Quarterback Matt Ryan.
The safety said facing those playmakers is like a bad dream he must revisit every practice. But Allen also smiled because that's good news for Atlanta's 2018 outlook.
Falcons Training Camp Capsule
ATLANTA FALCONS (11-7)
OPEN CAMP: July 27, Falcons practice facility, Flowery Branch, Georgia
No Julio? No problem, say Falcons, carrying on without him
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Matt Ryan barked out a play, took the snap and zipped a pass to the receiver who played his college ball at Alabama.
Nope, it wasn't Julio Jones.
He's sitting out the team's voluntary offseason program. So it was Calvin Ridley — a first-round draft pick from the Crimson Tide — who got a chance to shine during a 90-minute practice Wednesday.
But, for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, it was impossible to ignore the absence of No. 11.
Ridley enjoys ‘more freedom’ at Falcons rookie minicamp
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Even with temperatures in the mid-80s for the opening day of the Falcons rookie minicamp, wide receiver Calvin Ridley wore long sleeves under his red No. 18 jersey.
He just couldn't resist.
It's a freedom that was never allowed for skill position players in Ridley's college career under Alabama coach Nick Saban.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms with third-round draft pick Deadrin Senat, a defensive tackle from South Florida.
The deal leaves only the team's first-round pick, wide receiver Calvin Ridley of Alabama, unsigned before Friday's opening of a two-day rookie minicamp.
Of the team's six draft picks, Senat may have the clearest path to a starting job. There is an opening at defensive tackle after free agent Dontari Poe signed with NFC South rival Carolina.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms with four of their six draft picks, including cornerback Isaiah Oliver, a second-round pick from Colorado.
The Falcons also announced they have agreed to terms with running back Ito Smith, a fourth-round pick, and their two sixth-round picks, wide receiver Russell Gage and linebacker Foye Oluokun.
Roll Tide! Falcons add another Alabama receiver with Ridley
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The last time the Atlanta Falcons picked an Alabama receiver in the first round of the NFL draft, it worked out pretty well.
So, when Calvin Ridley was still on the board Thursday night at No. 26, they knew what to do.
The Falcons landed another Nick Saban receiver for their offensive arsenal, adding Ridley to a unit led by Julio Jones .
Belichick, top Alabama prospects among pro day spectators
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's pro day featured some prominent figures in spectator roles, including NFL head coaches, highly rated prospects fresh from the combine and a former Southeastern Conference head coach expected to join the Crimson Tide staff as an analyst.
Fitzpatrick among 5 Alabama underclassmen entering NFL draft
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — National champion Alabama once again must replace a number of key players leaving early for the NFL draft, including All-America safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Alabama football: Calvin Ridley declares for the NFL Draft
TUSCALOOSA — Alabama’s defections have begun.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, he announced in a statement posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday morning.
Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley says he will enter draft
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley is entering the NFL draft.
Ridley announced his decision in a Twitter post Wednesday, two days after the Crimson Tide won the second national championship of his three-year career.
Widely projected as a first-round pick, Ridley easily led the Tide in receiving. He had 63 catches for 967 yards while no other wide receiver caught more than 14 balls.
NO MERCY: With Iron Bowl on horizon, Tide quickly dispatches Mercer
TUSCALOOSA — Already comfortably ahead in a game that never had a remote chance to be competitive, Jalen Hurts called for the football. Calvin Ridley ran a double move along the right sideline, a doomed Mercer cornerback falling to the turf.
LESS COWBELL: Tide’s Hurts quiets MSU with comeback win
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Beneath the incessant clanging of cowbells inside a stadium that’s transformed from morgue to madhouse in 10 short years, Jalen Hurts went to work.
All of his teammates have a story — exactly when this 19-year-old’s inordinate poise and leadership registered as something extraordinary, something worthy of the enormous stage on which he places himself each week.
Late TD lifts No. 1 Alabama over No. 18 Mississippi St 31-24
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State brought the all-out blitz. Alabama's Jalen Hurts never flinched.
Throwing two perfect passes with less than a minute remaining, the sophomore quarterback carved through Mississippi State's defense and helped deliver a precarious victory for the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday night.
The Next Level: How LSU’s cornerbacks are being targeted and why they’ll need a rebound this week
More than any other LSU defensive back, teams target Greedy Williams most.
There are two statistics that make that surprising: Williams is tied for second in the league in passes defended (9) and interceptions (3).
“I mean, I guess they still see a redshirt freshman,” Williams explained. “That’s still standing out to them, and they’re just going to throw it at me every time. That’s what they do.”
This is fine, he says.
“Helps me out a lot with stats,” he smiled. “It excites me.”
LSU at Alabama: How they scored
Score by quarters
LSU 0 3 7 0 — 10
Alabama 7 7 7 3 — 24
ALABAMA: Irv Smith 4 pass from Jalen Hurts at 6:08 (Andy Pappanastos kick). DRIVE: 9 plays, 90 yards, 4:10. KEY PLAYS: Hurts 15-yard pass to Calvin Ridley on third-and-9 extends the drive at the Alabama 24. Hurts 47-yard pass to Henry Ruggs to LSU 18. Bo Scarbrough 10-yard run to the 9. CRIMSON TIDE 7, TIGERS 0.
Young defensive players emerging for UT
KNOXVILLE — Freshman defensive back Shawn Shamburger walked onto the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium nervous to play against his home state team, No. 1 Alabama. He walked off firmly in Tennessee’s rotation at corner.
Shamburger led Tennessee with 12 total tackles in a 45-7 loss to the Crimson Tide and held his own routinely matched up against one of the best receivers in college football, Calvin Ridley.
Alabama football: Damien Harris added to Maxwell Award watch list
TUSCALOOSA — Alabama running back Damien Harris was one of four players added to the Maxwell Award watch list Wednesday afternoon, joining four of his Tide teammates.
Averaging a team and conference-leading 8.60 yards per rush, Harris is the Crimson Tide’s leading rusher across the team’s first eight games.
Harris has run for 697 yards on just 81 carries and has a team-high 10 touchdowns, two of which were career-long 75-yard runs.
Hurts, No. 1 Alabama outlast Colorado State, 41-23
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jalen Hurts and Alabama scored in a hurry, then did it again — and again.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide raced to a lead Saturday night, lost a chunk of it, then outlasted Colorado State 41-23 Saturday night.
Hurts passed for 248 yards and two long touchdowns and rushed for 103 yards for the Tide (3-0) in his best all-around game of the season.
He ran for a 27-yard touchdown and hit on a career-long 78-yard scoring pass to Calvin Ridley and a 52-yarder to Robert Foster.
Some offensive playmakers remain TBA for Hurts, Alabama
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama tight end Hale Hentges is OK with not getting the ball that often, figuring that means other playmakers are getting their chance.
That hasn't always been the case in the first two games for the top-ranked Crimson Tide, which is still trying to identify, develop or just get the ball more to some of those weapons. Quarterback Jalen Hurts and Alabama should have plenty of options and some time to figure things out before the next big game.
Analysis points: No. 1 Alabama 41, Fresno State 10
Postgame analysis of Alabama’s 41-10 win over Fresno State:
THREE THINGS WORTH TALKING ABOUT
Spreading it out
One week after completing a pass to just one wide receiver — Calvin Ridley — Jalen Hurts targeted eight different players with his 18 passes.
Ridley still led the team with five catches for 45 yards, though.
With his three first-half touchdowns, Jalen Hurts is now responsible for 40 touchdowns in his brief Crimson Tide career.
No. 1 Bama grieving after fatal shooting of assistant’s son
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's football team had as much to mourn as to celebrate after a huge opening victory.
On the field, linebackers Terrell Lewis and Christian Miller sustained season-ending injuries in the top-ranked Crimson Tide's 24-7 win over No. 3 Florida State . About 24 hours after the game, a son of wide receivers coach Mike Locksley was shot and killed in Maryland.
Alabama-Florida St, Florida-Michigan highlight SEC schedule
Here are a few things to watch during the opening week of the Southeastern Conference football season:
Hurts, Alabama players top coaches preseason All-SEC team
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama placed a league-high 15 players on the coaches preseason All-Southeastern Conference teams, including quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The SEC released the teams on Wednesday with all 14 members represented.
Alabama had four players on the first-team offense and four on the first-team defense, plus punter JK Scott.
Reigning SEC offensive player of the year Hurts was joined by offensive linemen Jonah Williams and Ross Pierschbacher, along with wide receiver Calvin Ridley.