Cover 9@9: Cominsky primed for big leap in Year 2

Falcons defensive end John Cominsky loosens up during a team strength and conditioning workout on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Flowery Branch.
Falcons defensive end John Cominsky loosens up during a team strength and conditioning workout on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Flowery Branch.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Welcome to the Cover 9@9 blog — our weekly list of nine things that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.

1. The no-spin zone. The Falcons’ brain trust is raving about second-year defensive lineman John Cominsky.

John Cominsky, from the first practice with pads all the way up through today, he has seemed like somebody that’s taking that jump,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I thought two line-of-scrimmage people going from Year 1 to Year 2, you know you heard me talk about that before, but (offensive lineman Chris) Lindstrom and Cominsky in particular – they’re fit, they’re strong, they’re putting out great effort. … John specifically at defensive line.”

Cominsky, a fourth-round pick in 2019, played at Division II Charleston (W.Va.). He played 63 defensive snaps (6.7%) and 28 special-teams snaps (7%) in eight games before he sustained a high ankle sprain. He had six tackles, a quarterback hit and a pass defensed. Overall, he played 102 defensive snaps (9.7%) last season.

Cominsky was inactive for six games with the injury.

Cominsky was a high school quarterback who weighed 215 pounds and didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of Barberton (Ohio) High. He developed into a pass-rusher menace while at Charleston and impressed NFL scouts with his physical and intellectual capacity (31 Wonderlic score).

“Where John Cominsky is right now, he’s taken a complete leap I think and our team thinks,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said during an appearance SiriusXM NFL radio. “Right now, the way that he’s practicing. He came in at 292, 295. He looks good. He’s big. Pushing up field with a lot more confidence in his second year here. I love watching him mix in that group again with Tyeler Davison and Allen Bailey. I feel like we have good mix of guys who are going to rotate well (at defensive tackle).”

2. Scouting issues: The Falcons are preparing to scout college games if any are played this season and the NFL lifts the ban on campus visits during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I believe it’s going to be complicated,” Dimitroff said while on with Gil Brandt and Alex Marve on SiriusXM NFL Radio during their virtual tour of the Falcons’ training camp. “I believe it’s going to take more and more video, of course. We’re going to have to really dig in.”

The NFL banned campus visits in March just as the pre-draft period and most college Pro Days were set to kickoff. The NFL’s 2020 draft was held virtually.

The Falcons are ready to continue using technology, but are hopeful to do some in-person scouting.

“We are going to have to spend our virtual interviews with these people, of course, where appropriate,” Dimitroff said. “It’s going to really force our scouting staff and our personnel staff to work creatively with how they gather their information.

“We’re in the process right now of trying to decide if the league in fact does continue to mandate against visits to these schools, even if some schools do open, which is where it is right now. We are trying to come up with the proper scheduling of sending our scouts to games.”

The SEC, ACC and Big 12 are still trying to play games, while the Big Ten and Pac-12 have postponed football for this year.

“We are trying to decide on how we are logistically going to manage that,” Dimitroff said. “That in and of itself is going to be complicated, but again we have to come up with our best-case scenario and get creative with it where we are going to get our information.”

Teams will face a challenge when trying to find players from conferences that are not playing.

“Those falling-under-the-cracks sort of players, I’m going to be pressing our are scouts, ‘You be an expert in your area,’” Dimitroff said. " That is imperative that our area scouts know their area through and through. Quite honestly, our feeling is, they should now that player prior to this season anyway.

“But yes, some of them jump (out) as the season goes on, I get it. But if they are truly dialed into their teams and their area, they should have an inkling of who the players may be. Then they can try to focus on them in a different way. That said, it will be very complicated.”

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons perform drills during practice Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Flowery Branch.

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

3. No salary-cap hell. Dimitroff continue to rail against the notion that the team was in “salary hell” and couldn’t sign players they developed last season in linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and tight end Austin Hooper.

“We were really focused on how we were going to be creative in the offseason,” Dimitroff said. “We were taking a lot of hits and comments about us being in cap hell, and I disagreed that it was cap hell. It warranted a lot of creativity, which is what we did.”

The Falcons did sign defensive end Dante Fowler and running back Todd Gurley in free agency. Fowler’s contract was back-loaded, and Gurley signed a modest deal, in part because he wanted to return to Georgia. Fowler was signed to replace Vic Beasley, who the team also let leave via free agency.

“We brought in some players, obviously, not just draft picks,” Dimitroff said. “We feel like we continued to bolster our defense. We like where we are with our defense right now. We know it so important to make sure that we had a defense that could operate well and consistently with maturity as well, which is something that has been an overriding them here the whole offseason. Maturity, consistency, accountability, we know that is vital.

“In this league right now you can have a very talented players, but if you don’t possess those attributes, I personally don’t think you have a chance. If you have a whimsical team with a lot of talent, but you’re flying all over the place, I think it’s going to be really complicated.”

4. Gurley’s load management. The Falcons will manage Gurley’s work load, Dimitroff acknowledged. He has a chronic left knee injury.

“We are managing him,” Dimitroff said. “I won’t get into the details about it. But Dan is the best coach to be managing someone like that. He is so understanding of that. It’s like what we are doing with a couple of other veteran players.”

After practice, Gurley runs the hills at the end of the practice fields.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter told ESPN that Falcons want to get Gurley 15 to 25 touches a game. Some, including former NFL team doctor David Chao, consider those numbers rather optimistic.

5. GM loves Hurst. Later in the radio interview, Dimitroff admitted the team was in cap hell and knew it couldn’t sign Hooper, which lead to the trade for tight end Hayden Hurst.

“We knew that we were going to have a hard time keep Hooper here,” Dimitroff said. “Hoop obviously went to Cleveland. Good for him. That’s a good situation, but we knew that we were focused on a tight end that was going to come in here and be really athletic. Very good athleticism. Very good speed. Very good size. He’s 265 right now.”

Hurst, a former first-round pick, caught 13 passes in 2018 and 30 in 2019 with the Ravens. The Falcons believe he can have a breakout year in their pass-heavy attack.

“I’ve been very public about this,” Dimitroff said. “He’s my favorite tight end to come out since I’ve been in the GM position, drafting and following the draft group…We knew we were going to have a hole there in our tight end spot. We needed an athlete, a big athlete that was going to help our offense and take it to another level of course. It was a no brainer for us.”

6. PSL defaults up to $42.9 million. Falcons fans walked away from another $10.9 million worth of personal seat licenses in a 12-month period through June, according to the latest available data.

That raised the total amount of defaults on seat licenses in Mercedes-Benz Stadium to $42.9 million since 2016.

The figures, provided by the Falcons to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open-records request to the GWCCA, represent the remaining amount that was owed when PSL holders quit making payments on thousands of seats. The PSLs are fees, often paid in installments over multiple years, for the right to buy Falcons season tickets in a particular seat for as long as the team plays in the stadium.

7. Who’s going to have a home-field advantage. More than half of the NFL’s 32 teamsincluding the Falcons — have ruled out spectators to start, or for all, the season.

8. Installation almost over. The Falcons almost have everything in the playbook installed, then they can start perfecting things before the season opener, which is scheduled for Sept. 13 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Seattle.

“We’re getting near the end of the installation,” Quinn said. “So, that piece is coming to a close where now reps are over and over and over again. I might have said it before, but it was the Usain Bolt (comment). He didn’t get tired of running straight ahead.”

9. Depth chart: Signing offensive guard Jamon Brown to a three-year, $18.75 million contract was an expensive mistake for the Falcons, who released him Monday.

Brown received a $5.5 million signing bonus, will count as a $6.5 million dead cap hit in 2020 and $1.8 million in 2021. There’s offset language in the contract that could lower those amounts if Brown is signed by another team.

Who were the Falcons bidding against to overpay Brown who had already been with two teams? The Rams and the Giants were rebuilding offensive lines, too. If Brown was a player both teams had chances to keep him and the Rams had two chances.

Also, letting Brown go signals that the Falcons are pleased with the work of third-round pick Matt Hennessy, James Carpenter and Justin McCray.

Before getting cut, Brown missed practices because of an illness that is not related to COVID-19. Upon his return he suffered an injury and was placed in the concussion protocol. He returned to practice Monday and was released after practice.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons coach Dan Quinn discusses why the team cut Jamon Brown and gives his review of the second scrimmage.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Brown began the 2019 season as a healthy scratch in the season opener against the Vikings, and he stepped into a starting role after right guard Chris Lindstrom suffered a broken toe. Brown started nine of the 10 games he appeared in last season.

Brown, however, did not appear in any of the final four games of the 2019 season signaling that he was a short-term rental. The Falcons elected to play Wes Schweitzer, who was not re-signed and went to Washington in free agency.

Here’s a look at the revised depth chart after the release of Brown:

OFFENSE

WR -- 11 Julio Jones, 80 Laquon Treadwell, 13 Christian Blake, 19 Devin Gray, 14 Chris Rowland, 12 Juwan Green

LT -- 70 Jake Matthews, 73 Matt Gono, 71 Ka’John Armstrong

LG – 61 Matt Hennessy, 77 James Carpenter, 73 Matt Gono, 64 Sean Harlow

C -- 51 Alex Mack, 64 Sean Harlow, 61 Matt Hennessy

RG -- 63 Chris Lindstrom, 65 Justin McCray, 66 Justin Gooseberry

RT -- 76 Kaleb McGary, 75 John Wetzel, 72 Evin Ksiezarczyk

TE -- 81 Hayden Hurst, 88 Luke Stocker, 87 Jaeden Graham, 86 Khari Lee, 89 Jared Pinkney

WR -- 18 Calvin Ridley, 83 Russell Gage, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus, 15 Brandon Powell, 1 Jalen McCleskey

QB -- 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 6 Kurt Benkert

RB -- 21 Todd Gurley, 25 Ito Smith, 23 Brian Hill, 30 Qadree Ollison

FB -- 40 Keith Smith, 44 Mikey Daniel

DEFENSE

DE -- 56 Dante Fowler, 95 Austin Edwards

DT -- 97 Grady Jarrett, 50 John Cominsky, 99 Hinwa Allieu

DT -- 96 Tyeler Davison, 90 Marlon Davidson, 94 Deadrin Senat, 79 Sailosi Latu

DE -- 93 Allen Bailey, 55 Steven Means

DE -- 98 Takk McKinley, 92 Charles Harris, 91 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

LB -- 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 36 Deone Bucannon, 46 Edmond Robinson

LB -- 45 Deion Jones, 59 LaRoy Reynolds, 43 Mykal Walker, 48 Ray Wilborn

RCB -- 26 Isaiah Oliver, 20 Kendall Sheffield, 29 Josh Hawkins, 42 Delrick Abrams, 44 Tyler Hall

LCB -- 24 A.J. Terrell, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 28 Jordan Miller

NCB -- 38 Darqueze Dennard, 20 Kendall Sheffield, 34 Chris Cooper

SS – 22 Kenau Neal, 37 Ricardo Allen, 48 J.J. Wilcox 32 Jaylinn Hawkins, 35 Jamal Carter

FS -- 27 Damontae Kazee, 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman

SPECIALISTS

K -- 7 Younghoe Koo

KO -- 7 Younghoe Koo

P -- 4 Sterling Hofrichter

LS -- 47 Josh Harris

H -- 4 Sterling Hofrichter

KOR -- 15 Brandon Powell, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus, 25 Ito Smith, 14 Chris Rowland

PR -- 15 Brandon Powell, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus, 14 Chris Rowland

--

The Bow Tie Chronicles Podcasts:

Can be found on Google, iTunes and TuneIn

For more content about the Atlanta Falcons:

Follow me on Twitter @DorlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Have a question? Email me at dledbetter@ajc.com

About the Author

ajc.com