Cover 9@9: Falcons’ Raheem Morris was fine with trip to see Jon Gruden

Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden Resigns Following Reports of Offensive Emails

Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden Resigns Following Reports of Offensive Emails

(Here’s our weekly nine items at 9 a.m. Wednesday on the Atlanta Falcons, otherwise known as the Cover 9@9 blog!)

1. The no-spin zone. Falcons coach Raheem Morris was just fine with quarterback Kirk Cousins taking some of the offensive players to see former NFL coach and broadcaster Jon Gruden.

“It is well documented that Jon is a football junkie,” Morris said. “I loved that Kirk (went) down there and took his guys down there.”

Gruden is a former head coach for the Buccaneers and Raiders, before he resigned from the Raiders on Oct. 11, 2021 after a New York Times report revealed that he used racist, homophobic and sexist language in emails, including some attacking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, over several years while working as an analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

Cousins played in Washington for Gruden’s brother, Jay Gruden, from 2014-17. Gruden gave Morris his first job in the NFL.

“There is not a more exciting guy to talk to about football than Jon Gruden and how much juice and energy that he brings to it and what he probably said to those guys,” Morris said. “Some of the things in the messaging that’s going to come along with that about how to be a winning offense, how to go about your business.”

The group took a day trip to Tampa, Florida, where Gruden maintains an office.

“I love when guys go out and (seek) information from different places,” Morris said. “It’s no different from a coach and how we do our own development. We get out, and we meet with other staffs. We do different things. We hear different voices. We get different reasonings behind it.”

Morris joined Gruden’s staff as a defensive quality-control coach back in 2002.

“Jon is one of my mentors,” Morris said. “One of the guys I grew up with. He’s … the guy who hired me in my first job in this league. Got a chance to work with him for six-plus years. I think anytime that you get around great football people with great football knowledge, you take full advantage of it.”

2. Ogundeji released: Former outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino thought Ade Ogundeji had a bright future with the Falcons.

The former starter was released

May 16Thursday.

“We were able to address it a little bit in the draft with Bralen (Trice),” Morris said. “We were able to address that position a little bit later when we added (Bradlee) Anae. It was a numbers issue for him. You never know, for him, that door is not closed. You never know when we go there.”

Ogundeji, a fifth-round draft pick from Notre Dame in 2021, missed last season after sustaining a foot injury in the exhibition season. He was placed on injured reserve for the season.

In 2022, he started 16 games and had 42 tackles and two sacks over 542 defensive snaps (51%). As a rookie, he started in 11 of 16 games and had 33 tackles and a sack over 569 defensive snaps (48%). He also played 273 special-teams snaps.

3. Dawes among new limited partners: Rosalind Brewer, Dominique Dawes, Will Packer and Rashaun Williams were approved by the NFL at the league meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, to become new limited partners of the Falcons ownership group, owner Arthur Blank announced Tuesday.

The additions are pending final closing of agreements.

Packer, 50, is a film producer who has made movies that have grossed over $1 billion worldwide. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Florida A&M. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Dawes, 47, was a 10-year member of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team and won a gold medal during the 1996 Olympics. She also won three bronze medals and graduated from Maryland.

Rosalind Brewer, 62, is the former president and CEO of Walgreen Boots Alliance, Inc and COO of Starbucks. Prior to leading Starbucks, Brewer was president and COO of Sam’s Club.

Brewer earned a bachelor of science in chemistry from Spelman.

Williams, 44, in a family office investor, venture capitalist and financial literacy activist with over 170 investments and more than 50 exits.

Williams is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated and a summa cum laude graduate of Morehouse.

All of the new limited partners are African Americans. They join the current group of limited partners — Brian Barker, Ron Canakaris, Warrick Dunn, Doug Hertz, Alan Kestenbaum, Edward Mendel and Derek Smith.

Dunn, a former Falcons and Buccaneers running back, became the first Black limited partner for the team in 2010.

The terms of the transactions are unknown.

Blank, 81, controls about 70% of the team and has no intention of selling majority control, according to Sports Business Journal. The Falcons are valued at $4.7 billion, according to Forbes’ estimate.

Brewer also has served as an associate director on the board of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation since 2016 and will continue in that role.

“Roz, Dominique, Will and Rashaun are impressive leaders who have made an impact in a variety of enterprises, while also building histories of success making a difference in the world around them and positively impacting people in ways that align very well with our core values,” Blank said in a statement. “Each brings unique talent, experience and perspective to our ownership group.”

Rosalind Brewer

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

icon to expand image

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

4. Statement From Rosalind Brewer

“As I embrace the opportunity to become a limited partner of the Atlanta Falcons, I’m reminded that true leadership extends beyond boardrooms and onto the fields where dreams are forged and communities united. My journey has always been about people – their stories, aspirations and the communities we build together. Having worked with Arthur and his Foundation for several years, I have deep respect and appreciation for the values that guide everything Arthur does in his businesses and philanthropy – his impact on Atlanta has been immeasurable. With this incredible opportunity, I look forward to championing the Falcons’ successes and Atlanta’s spirit as we strive to make a genuine difference in the lives we touch, both on and off the field.”

Dominique Dawes

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

icon to expand image

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

5. Statement From Dominique Dawes

“Throughout the course of my life, making an impact on others has always been my driving force. What I accomplished in 1996, winning America’s first Team Gold Medal in gymnastics and as the first African- American to win Gold, in the city of Atlanta, has given me, to this day, the greatest platform to continually inspire others. The unique opportunity Mr. Blank has provided enables me to further my positive impact on those in the Atlanta community, a place I hold near and dear to my heart. Having been a global ambassador for the United States, I hope that my platform and influence as one of the few African American women to be a limited partner in the National Football League has broad impact throughout the NFL community and beyond.”

Will Packer

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

icon to expand image

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

6a. Statement From Will Packer

“The power of representation and equity should never be underestimated and as someone who has dedicated his career to creating diverse imagery, I have a true appreciation of Mr. Blank’s commitment to opening doors that have historically been closed to African Americans. This investment represents not only the personal opportunity of a lifetime, but also the chance to demonstrate for generations to come that someone who looks like me can excel not only on the field, but at the highest level of the exclusive ranks of NFL ownership.”

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

icon to expand image

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

6b. Statement From Rashaun Williams

“NFL football is the great unifier, bringing people together across socioeconomic, racial, and political divides. As an alumnus of Morehouse College now raising a family in Atlanta, I could not be more excited to invest in the Falcons. I believe in the immense potential of this team and this city to Rise Up to the greatest heights, and I look forward to supporting the Falcons and the city of Atlanta for many successful seasons to come.”

7. Joint practices with Dolphins: For the third time in four offseasons, the Falcons are set to hold joint practices with the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Florida.

“I think it’s amazing,” Falcons linebacker Kaden Elliss said Tuesday. “They’ve got some special stuff going on on offense in Miami.”

The Falcons practiced with the Dolphins last season and in 2021.

The practices will be held Aug. 6 and Aug. 7 before teams play in an exhibition game Aug. 9.

The Falcons’ defense will get tested by the Dolphins’ high-ranking offense. The Dolphins led the NFL in total offense (401.3 yards per game) and were second in scoring (37.2 points per game) last season.

The Dolphins feature quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle and a strong rushing attack.

“Getting to see variations and differences and how teams do it is good,” Elliss said. “How teams are going to try and attack you in their core schemes, I think getting to see that anytime in the (exhibition) season, especially in a practice setting, when you’re able to get reps, reps, reps, reps and reps.

“It’s just going to help you in the season when you see those things again or when you get new variations in Week 17, you’ve already have got some building blocks there.”

Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) avoids a tackle from Indianapolis Colts defensive back JuJu Brents (29) during the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Atlanta. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

icon to expand image

Credit: TNS

8. Robinson on track for minicamp: Falcons running back Bijan Robinson has an ankle injury, but is expected to return in time for the team’s veteran minicamp, which will be held June 10-12.

“I’m hoping. Really, really positive about it as well, too,” Morris said before the team’s open OTA session. “The veteran minicamp, we’ll get a chance to see something, some movements and things of that nature.”

Also, cornerback A.J. Terrell (tight hamstring) did not practice Tuesday.

It’s not known how Robinson sustained the injury.

“He’s progressing well,” Morris said. “He’s been out there. He’s in great spirits. He’s definitely learning the game above the neck. He’s the first person to want to talk about it. You can’t help but smile when you see Bijan. That’s just who he is. That’s what he is.”

With Robinson out, Tyler Allgeier, Avery Williams, Carlos Washington Jr. and Jase McClellan are the remaining running backs on the roster.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence that he’ll be ready to go for the veteran’s minicamp,” Morris said. “(We’re) trying get him a nice break in between. When we get to training camp, I’d love to see him rolling.”

9. Depth chart: Here’s the updated Falcons depth chart as they reached the 90-man roster limit by signing four players after the rookie minicamp:


QB – Kirk Cousins, Taylor Heinicke, Michael Penix, John Paddock

RB – Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Avery Williams, Carlos Washington Jr., Jase McClellan

FB – Tucker Fisk, Robert Burns

WR – Drake London, Josh Ali, Austin Mack, Greg Washington, JaQuae Jackson, Dylan Drummond

Slot WR – Rondale Moore, Ray-Ray McCloud

TE – Kyle Pitts, Charlie Woerner, John FitzPatrick, Austin Stogner, Ross Dwelley

LT – Jake Matthews, Tyler Vrabel, Barry Wesley

LG – Matthew Bergeron, John Leglue, Ryan Coll

C – Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil, Jovaughn Gwyn

RG – Chris Lindstrom, Kyle Hinton, Nolan Potter

RT – Kaleb McGary, Storm Norton

WR – Darnell Mooney, KhaDarel Hodge, Chris Blair, Isaiah Wooden

DEFENSE 3-4 alignment

DE – Zach Harrison, Kentavius Street, Demone Harris, James Smith-Williams, Brandon Dorlus

NT – David Onyemata, LaCale London, Tommy Togiai, Eddie Goldman, Zion Logue

DT – Grady Jarrett, Kentavius Street, Ta’Quon Graham, Willington Previlon, Ruke Orhorhoro

LOLB – Arnold Ebiketie, Bradlee Anae, Kehinde Oginni

LILB – Kaden Elliss, Donavan Mutin, Milo Eifler

RILB – Troy Andersen, Nate Landman, JD Bertrand

ROLB – Lorenzo Carter, DeAngelo Malone, Bralen Trice

CB – A.J. Terrell, Antonio Hamilton, Jayden Price, Anthony Sao

Nickel CB – Mike Hughes, Dee Alford, Trey Vaval

FS – Jessie Bates III, Micah Abernathy, Tre Tarpley III

SS – DeMarcco Hellams, Richie Grant, Lukas Denis, Dane Cruikshank

CB – Clark Phillips III, Natrone Brooks, Kevin King


K – Younghoe Koo

P/H – Bradley Pinion, Ryan Sanborn

LS – Liam McCullough

PR – Ray-Ray McCloud or Avery Williams

KOR – Ray-Ray McCloud or Avery Williams