1. The no-spin zone: Aundell Terrell Sr., the father of Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell, was beaming with joy during the “A.J. Terrell Relays” on Saturday at Westlake.
More than 1,000 high school athletes participated in the event.
“We are loving it,” Terrell said. “Just giving back to the community is something big, and we look forward to doing. It’s the second year. It’s always good to give back, and we have a lot of schools from all over the state and some teams from out of state are also out here to compete.”
The elder Terrell was a standout running back and cornerback in Rochester, New York. He helped Edison Tech, in Rochester, win the City-Catholic championship in 1993 before graduating in 1994. He later played semi-pro football.
Track was important to him, and he used it to help develop his family.
“I think track and football go hand-in-hand,” Terrell said. “Back in the day, a lot of people were three-sport athletes. If you weren’t a three-sport, you were at least a two-sport athlete with track being the base.”
Terrell’s younger brother, Avieon, competed in the meet. He is set to play football at Clemson.
“Even going into college, finishing the track season is important to us,” Terrell said. “Having that track background is always good, especially when it’s time to go out there and run. Especially, competing on (the) Power Five level, speed is always a factor.”
The relays were A.J.’s idea.
“We’re very proud of A.J.,” his father said. “This is something that he looks forward to doing. This is his way of giving back: having a track event.”
The family gave a lot of credit to the Westlake track coaches and football coaches for helping to pull off such a large event.
A.J. believes that track helped him in football.
“It’s a big meet, just something that, just giving back any way possible and showing my face,” Terrell said. “I’m just happy that it’s a different setting, not just for football, but track. Just thankful. It’s a big event.”
Pebblebrook High’s Dwight Phillips Jr. ran the 100 meters in an unofficial wind-aided 10.29 seconds. He’s committed to play football at Georgia.
“That’s big,” Terrell said of Phillips’ strong run. “I advise all athletes, you don’t have to be football athletes, just athletes in general to run track and keep their endurance and everything the right way. I feel like for me to have my own track event – and I’m not a pro athlete in track, I’m in football instead – it just goes to show that track opens a lot of doors.”
2. Supporting A.J. Terrell’s event: Falcons defensive backs Casey Hayward, Dee Alford and Jovante Moffatt were out to support their teammate.
“This is pretty (cool),” Hayward said. “This looks like a college track. They’ve got a lot of people in the stands. A lot of schools. It’s kind of (cool) that he’s doing this because he’s a football player.”
Hayward, of Perry, also ran track in high school.
“He also knows how important other sports are for football players,” Hayward said. “I always tell football players, while you are in high school please run track. It will help you out in football. I’m pretty sure it helped A.J. out while he was in high school. It also helped me out.”
Hayward competed in the 100, 200, triple jump, long jump and both (100 and 400) relays in high school.
Moffatt played baseball during the track season.
“It’s actually impressive,” Moffatt said. “It’s my first time coming to a player-hosted track meet. It’s good to see the kids out. The talent that is out there. This is good for his name and his surrounding community.”
3. Auburn’s Pro Day: Auburn running back Tank Bigsby, who played at Callaway High and is from LaGrange, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds at the NFL scouting combine. He ran an unofficial 4.45 seconds at Auburn’s Pro Day on Tuesday.
“That time at the combine just did something to me,” Bigsby said. “I knew I could run faster than that. I know I move faster than that. I know I play faster than that. I couldn’t sleep at night thinking about that time. I was tossing and turning, getting up early and calling my trainer, ‘Hey, we need to do it again.’”
Bigsby said he canceled visits with teams to train for the 40-yard dash.
“I just wanted to show the world that I can catch the ball, I can run routes and that I can run fast,” Bigsby said. “That was my agenda.”
In addition to Bigsby, five other Auburn players (Derick Hall, Owen Pappoe, Eku Leota, Colby Wooden and Anders Carlson) participated at the combine.
Wide receiver Shedrick Jackson, tight end John Samuel Shenker, edge rusher Marcus Bragg, defensive linemen Morris Joseph and Marquis Burks, offensive linemen Brandon Council and Kilian Zierer and former Auburn receiver Caylin Newton, the younger brother of Cam Newton, participated at the Pro Day.
Caylin started his career at Howard and spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Auburn before finishing his career at William & Mary last season, reuniting with former Howard coach Mike London.
4. Alabama’s Pro Day: Former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young didn’t throw at the combine, but NFL scouts are looking forward to see him throw on Thursday.
Most of the Southeast scouts were at Auburn on Tuesday and are headed to Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday before making it over to Tuscaloosa on Thursday.
5. Falcons’ free-agency tracker: Here’s an easy way to keep track of the moves:
– RG Chris Lindstrom, five years, $105 million
– RT Kaleb McGary, three years, $34.5 million
– TE Jonnu Smith from Patriots for seventh-round draft pick
NEW FREE AGENTS
– S Jessie Bates III, four years, $64 million
– DT David Onyemata, four years, $35 million ($24.5 million guaranteed, $12 million signing bonus)
– LB Kaden Elliss, three years, $21.5 million ($11 million guaranteed)
– QB Taylor Heinicke, two years, up to $20 million
– CB Mike Hughes, two years
– LB Tae Davis, one year
– WR Mack Hollins, one year, up to $2.5 million
– P Bradley Pinion re-signed, three years, $8.65 million
– FB Keith Smith re-signed, one year, $2.35 million ($625,000 guaranteed)
– OLB Lorenzo Carter, two years, $9 million
– LS Liam McCullough, one year, $705,000
– TE Parker Hesse, one year, $940,000
– CB Cornell Armstrong
– DT Eddie Goldman (unretired list)
SIGNED WITH OTHER TEAMS
– CB Isaiah Oliver (49ers)
- DL Abdullah Anderson (Commanders)
– CB Mike Ford (Browns)
– OL Chuma Edoga (Cowboys)
6. Free agents: Here’s a look at former Falcons who are unrestricted free agents:
Rashaan Evans: The Falcons appear to have moved on.
Olamide Zaccheaus: The dependable player was the second-leading receiver with 40 catches for 533 yards and three touchdowns.
Erik Harris: With Bates, they no longer have a need for veteran leadership.
Damiere Byrd: Provided a deep threat early in the season.
Germain Ifedi: He was beaten out by McGary and was the backup swing tackle.
Anthony Firkser: He played in 11 games and made one start as a quality reserve.
Elijah Wilkinson: He won the starting job, but injuries got in the way. He started only nine games.
Vincent Taylor: He spent the season on injured reserve. Was expected to be the starter at nose tackle.
Beau Brinkley: With McCullough re-signed, it wouldn’t make sense to have two long snappers on the 90-man roster.
KhaDarel Hodge: He played 259 special-teams snaps and was a dependable reserve at wide receiver. He led the team with nine special-teams tackles.
Nick Kwiatkoski: A quality reserve who played in nine games.
MyCole Pruitt: He came on strong and caught four touchdown passes after tight end Kyle Pitts went down. Quarterback Desmond Ridder was on the same page with Pruitt.
Jaleel Johnson: The defensive lineman provided some depth along the line.
Colby Gossett: Made a start but ended the season as the fifth guard.
Matt Dickerson: He provided some late-season depth along the defensive line.
Rashad Fenton: The Falcons traded a seventh-round pick to the Chiefs for Fenton. He played in two games and made one start.
7. Casey Hayward injury update: Hayward is recovering from pectoral surgery. He was injured and lost for the season after starting six games.
“I’m doing good,” Hayward said. “I’m getting a lot better. Hopefully, by OTAs and camp, I’ll be 100%. I’m getting there. Everything is going in the right direction.”
Hayward felt he was off to a strong start until the injury derailed his season.
“At the time, I thought I was playing some solid ball,” Hayward said. “I was playing some good ball at the time. Obviously, it’s a new year. So far, the team is doing a good job in free agency signing some key pieces. Hopefully, as a team and as a defense, we can be a lot better than what we were.
“We’ve got a new (defensive coordinator) and a lot of new things going on. Hopefully, those things turn out and go in the right direction for us.”
8. Falcons’ position-by-position analysis: Here’s our position-by-position look at the how the Falcons performed during their 7-10 season in 2022.
Part 1: Running backs
Part 2: Quarterbacks
Part 3: Wide receivers/tight ends
Part 4: Offensive line
Part 5: Defensive line
Part 6: Linebackers
Part 7: Defensive backs
Part 8: Special teams
9. Updated depth chart: Here’s what the depth chart looks like with the new and re-signed players. (Players who ended the season on injured reserve have an asterisk):
QB – Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside, Feleipe Franks
RB – Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Allgeier, Avery Williams, *Caleb Huntley, B.J. Baylor
FB – Keith Smith, Clint Ratkovich
WR – Drake London, Frank Darby, *Jared Bernhardt, Josh Ali
TE – *Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Parker Hesse, Feleipe Franks, *John FitzPatrick, Tucker Fisk, John Raine
LT – Jake Matthews
LG – Kyle Hinton, Matt Hennessy, *Jalen Mayfield, *Justin Shaffer
C – Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil, Jonotthan Harrison
RG – Chris Lindstrom
RT – Kaleb McGary, Tyler Vrabel
WR – Mack Hollins, Ra’Shaun Henry
OLB – Lorenzo Carter, DeAngelo Malone, Quinton Bell
DE – Grady Jarrett, Timothy Horne, Amani Bledsoe
NT – Eddie Goldman, *Ta’Quon Graham, Jalen Dalton
DE – David Onyemata
OLB – Ade Ogundeji, Arnold Ebiketie, David Anenih
ILB – Kaden Elliss, Dorian Etheridge, Tae Davis
ILB – Troy Andersen, Mykal Walker, Nate Landman
CB – A.J. Terrell, Mike Hughes, Dylan Mabin, Javelin Guidry
FS – Jessie Bates III, Jaylinn Hawkins, Micah Abernathy, Jamal Peters
SS – Richie Grant, *Jovante Moffatt
CB – *Casey Hayward, Cornell Armstrong, Darren Hall, Dee Alford, Matt Hankins, John Reid
K – Younghoe Koo
P/H – Bradley Pinion
LS – Liam McCullough
PR – Avery Williams
KOR – Cordarrelle Patterson or Avery Williams
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