5 most recent free-agent Falcons signings

Cover 9@9: Anthony hopes to re-launch his once-promising NFL career 

1. Anthony hopes to relaunch his career: Stephone Anthony started all 16 games for the Saints as a rookie and appeared on his way to a long NFL career. 

Anthony, who was drafted 31st overall in the first round of the 2015 draft out of Clemson, played in 10 games and made three starts for the Saints in 2016. He was traded to the Dolphins in Sept. of 2017 and played sparingly for them over the past two seasons.

The Dolphins elected not to pick up Anthony’s $9.2 million fifth-year option and he became a free agent. 

When the Falcons moved Kemal Ishmael back to safety, that opened up a roster spot for a linebacker and Anthony was signed Friday.

“Honestly, it was just a blessing to finally get that phone call,” Anthony said. “To be right here in Atlanta, it’s a great opportunity for me. I think they have a good thing going with what they call the Brotherhood. I’m just trying to fit the mold of that and get an understanding of what’s going on and fit in.”

Anthony played with Falcons’ Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett at Clemson. 

“That made the transition easy,” Anthony said. “They welcomed me here with open arms. It’s always a good time when you get around Vic and Grady.”

Anthony started at middle linebacker with the Saints and was moved, unsuccessfully, to strongside linebacker in his second season. 

In Miami, he played in 24 games as a reserve.

He’s not sure how he’ll fit in with the Falcons, yet.

“I kind of playing all over the place right now and seeing what I know and seeing what I can do,” Anthony said.

Anthone was named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s all-rookie team, before his career to a sudden turn.

“You go through some things in your career and obviously that was something that I was going through in my career,” Anthony said. “I’m just trying to rebound. Stay on my feet. No matter how many times you get knock down, you just get up.”

He’s hoping he can re-launch his career with the Falcons.

“Any setting would have been good,” Anthony said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity and thankful that I got the call.”

2. Get season your tickets: The Falcons have a marketing push to sell their remaining season tickets and they are still pushing the personal seat licenses while not selling any single game tickets. 

3. The addition of Bailey: Defensive end Allen Bailey was added to help the run defense

“I think it’s important that where you have big guys that can play outside or inside ... it allows you to play really strong,” Quinn said. “You can imagine a defensive line where Allen is in and Tyeler (Davison) is in, and Grady’s (Jarrett) in, where those are just really strong run fronts as well.”

Bailey is picking things up quickly.

“He came in in-shape,” defensive line coach Jess Simpson said. “He’s a good guy. He’s a Georgia guy. It’s been fun to work with him. He was a good one.”

4. Pass rush package: Quinn, who will serve as his own defensive coordinator, is exploring all of options.

“You can add a package of (Takk) McKinley and (Adrian) Clayborn and (Vic) Beasley, and Jarrett to say, ‘That’s a rush package,’ ” Quinn said. “Having those types of moving parts helps. How do you do it? Practice. And their communication together, the un-required stuff together, like ‘Hey man, I’d like you guys to meet and go through some things together. How do you see it together?’ Those are the things that they need to do a lot of, where on the field, I’m not in there in the huddle. They are the ones that can communicate a lot.”

5. Committee to replace Coleman: Quinn is leaning toward using a committee of running backs to replace Tevin Coleman, who signed with San Francisco in free agency. 

"I would say it’d be a different kind of shared role because although I am not discouraged by any of them at all, I’m more encouraged where there hasn’t been a separation,” Quinn said. “Much like we were talking about how to use versatile players, we’re kind of feeling that way at running back, where it might be by some of the skill stuff they have, and how to feature them in that way.”

6. Rookie cornerbacks shining: Early in camp, Kendall Sheffield and Jordan Miller are turning heads. Sheffield was selected in the fourth round and Miller in the fifth round of the draft. 

“We’re playing both of them outside and inside,” Quinn said. “Both outside at corner and some nickel. The things that came through from Jordan’s side of things, I really feel his length outside. I think he’s got really good ball skills….For Sheffield, it’s his speed for sure that allows him to stay down. He can run with all the receivers here, and we’ve got some fast ones.”

7. The Benkert show: Quarterback Matt Ryan, and several other veterans, are not likely to see the field in Canton. 

“It’s really important for the rookies,” Quinn said. “We’ve got an advantage that thirty teams don’t have, where they get really good game experience. Of course, it’s a really important day for the 25 or so rookies. 

“To me, the development players, guys that we really spent a lot of time on last year, the Matt Gonos of the world, Kurt Benkerts, who it’s like, ‘Man, we’ve put a good 13 months into him, let's see where we’re at.’ ”

8. Julio Jones contract watch: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones said that his agent is still in the process of negotiating his contract extension.

“I don’t really want to talk about the contract,” Jones said initially on Tuesday.

When asked if he was waiting on the Saints and Michael Thomas or the Cowboys and Amari Cooper to strike a deal, he discussed the situation. 

“Nah, we’re not in the same boat,” Jones said. “They got their own thing going on. I’ve got my thing going on. I’m not waiting on Michael Thomas. I’m not waiting on Amari Cooper. It’s just us going back and forth, negotiating. That’s it. There is nothing at this point for me to tell. My thing is coming out here, working with the young guys and being ready when the season starts.” 

Jones said he will not play in the exhibition season. 

9. OFFICIAL Depth chart: Here’s the first official depth chart of the season released by the Falcons. We added linebacker Stephone Anthony, who was signed on Friday, but left off the chart. (We call it “official” because it’s released by the team. What’s the point of releasing it, if it’s not official. They could just keep in their back pocket): : 

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 83 Russell Gage, 15 Devin Gray, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus, 16 Shawn Bane, 19 Kahlil Lewis
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 73 Matt Gono, 67 Dieugot Joseph
LG 77 James Carpenter, 68 Jamon Brown, 75 John Wetzel, 69 Lanard Bonner
C 51 Alex Mack, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 61 Chandler Miller
RG 63 Chris Lindstrom, 72 Adam Gettis, 64 Sean Harlow
RT 74 Ty Sambrailo, 76 Kaleb McGary, 65 Jaelin Robinson
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Luke Stocker, 85 Eric Saubert, 82 Logan Paulsen, 87 Jaeden Graham, 89 Alex Gray
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Calvin Ridley, 14 Justin Hardy, 3 Marcus Green, 13 Christian Blake, 7 C.J. Worton
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 6 Kurt Benkert
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 25 Ito Smith, 32 Qadree Ollison, 38 Kenjon Barner, 23 Brian Hill, 46 Tony Brooks-James
FB 30 Ricky Ortiz

DEFENSE

DE 98 Takkarist McKinley, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 62 Austin Larkin, 49 Tre’ Crawford
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford, 92 Justin Zimmer
DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 94 Deadrin Senat, 90 Ra’Shede Hageman6 Allen Bailey 50 John Cominsky 79 Jaco
DE 99 Allen Bailey, 50 John Cominsky, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 91 Chris Odom, 52 Yurik Bethune, 48 Durrant Miles
LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 42 Duke Riley, 61 Stephone Anthony 
LB 45 Deion Jones, 55 Bruce Carter, 53 Jermaine Grace, 46 Del’Shawn Phillips
CB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 20 Kendall Sheffield, 32 Rashard Causey, 23 Jayson Stanley
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 27 Damontae Kazee, 28 Jordan Miller, 40 Ryan Neal, 39 Taveze Calhoun
S 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman, 34 Chris Cooper
S 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 43 Parker Baldwin, 35 Jason Thompson

SPECIALISTS

K 4 Giorgio Tavecchio
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
LS 47 Josh Harris, 48 Kyle Vasey
H 5 Matt Bosher

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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