5 things to know about the Falcons on Monday

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons (4-3) suffered a potentially devastating game, 33-30 to the San Diego Chargers (3-4) in overtime on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Here are five things to know about the Falcons today.

1. RIVERBOAT DAN: Falcons coach Dan Quinn’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 45 in overtime will deservedly be scrutinized and second guessed. Most in the press box understand why he was going for it, but didn’t like he outside zone finesse play. The consensus was that a fullback or tight end/h-back should have been in the game escorting the running back through the middle of San Diego’s defense. A power move deserved a power play.
2. NO VICTORY MONDAY: With the loss, the Falcons players will be available to the media today along with head coach Dan Quinn.
3. RESTED OPPONENTS: The Falcons are set to face their third straight well-rested opponent. The Packers played last Thursday and will have three extra days of rest before playing the Falcons. San Diego was also coming off a Thursday game and Seattle was coming off its bye week before playing the Falcons. 
4. NFC SOUTH RACE: By blowing the past two games late in the fourth-quarter and overtime, the Falcons have fallen back to the pack in the NFC South. With a 4-3 record, Tampa Bay is in striking distance at 3-3. The Saints are 2-4 and the Panthers are 1-5. Closing out games will be a big topic this week. The Falcons buzzword for that is “finishing.”
5. COLEMAN INJURY WATCH: The severity of running back Tevin Coleman’s hamstring injury will be important. He was walking around on it after he was pulled from the game and was later taken to the locker room indicating that it may be more that just a hamstring tweak. Hopefully, between now and 2:30 p.m. Quinn has a chat with the team doctors and has a update for the fan-base today.  

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Inactives: Chargers at Falcons 

Falcons cornerback Jalen Collins, who returned to the active roster after serving his four-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs, was declared active for the first time this season for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.

Linebacker Paul Worrilow will also be active for the first time since the Oakland game on Sept. 18. He’s coming back from groin surgery and has missed the past four games. 

The inactive players for the Falcons include wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, safety Sharrod Neasman, cornerback C.J. Goodwin, linebacker A.J. Hawk, linebacker Paul Worrilow, offensive guard Mike Person, offensive guard Wes Schweitzer and tight end Joshua Perkins.

The Chargers declared inactives: cornerback Brandon Flowers, cornerback Jahleel Addae, tight end Asante Cleveland, center Max Tuerk, offensive tackle Tyreek Burwell, defensive end Darius Philon and linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu.

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Shelby placed on injured reserve; safety Neasman promoted to 53-man roster 

Falcons defensive lineman Derrick Shelby, who suffered an achilles injury against Seattle, was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

Safety Sharrod Neasman was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Shelby’s injury was announced as a calf injury, but the team trainers were clearly looking at his right foot and ankle area. He left the locker room in a boot and on crutches.

Shelby was signed this offseason by the Falcons as a free agent. He was a part of the defensive line rotation.

In the first six games of the season, he had eight tackles, two tackles for loss, two hits on the quarterback and one pass deflection. 

Neasman was signed as an undrafted free agent after a strong college career at Florida Atlantic. Neasman spent the first six weeks of the season on the practice squad.

Derrick Shelby (90) chasing Denver’s Paxton Lynch (Associated Press)

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Freeney to miss Dolphins’ game with back strain 

ORLANDO — Falcons defensive end Dwight Freeney to be held out of tonight’s game with a slight back strain, according to coach Dan Quinn.

It’s a precautionary move and Freeney is expected back at practice as early as Sunday.

For the second game in a row, the Falcons will not have a chance to see the veteran Freeney and second-year defensive end Vic Beasley rush the passer together in their nickel package.

Beasley, who led the team with four sacks last year, was a late scratch against Cleveland last week. 

Freeney, who’s set to enter his 14th season in the NFL, has 119.5 career sacks.

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Falcons sign 3 tryout player, waive four undrafted college free agents 

FLOWERY BRANCH — After the completion of their rookie minicamp on Saturday, the Falcons signed offensive lineman Shabaz Ahmed, wide receiver David Glidden and defensive end Brandon Williams.

They have also waived defensive tackle Gerald Dixon Jr.,offensive lineman, wide receiver Malachi Jones and wide receiver David Richards. 

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Leonard Floyd to visit the Falcons

   FLOWERY BRANCH — Former Georgia outside linebacker/defensive Leonard Floyd, one of the top pass rushers in draft, is set to visit the Falcons on Friday.

Floyd did the vertical jump and leaped 35 inches high at his Pro Day. He participated in the circle drill, where a player runs around circular hoops and bends down to pick up a tennis ball. After that, he was finished for the day after getting sick.
      “There are some talented people here at positions that might be of need to certain teams in the NFL,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said at the time. “That’s why you see the coverage of all of the coaches and personnel men here. There are some legit top picks here. Unfortunately, one in particular — (Floyd) — didn’t get to work out fully here, and that was unfortunate, but we know that he is very, very talented.”
Floyd is considered a first-round draft pick. Several NFL teams believe that he has some pass-rushing ability.

He’s projected to be available when the Falcons pick at the 17th spot in the draft, which will be held April 28-30 in Chicago.

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Former Falcons DT Paul Soliai visited the Panthers

  Paul Soliai (96) and Brooks Reed (56). By Curtis Compton

Former Falcons defensive tackle Paul Soliai visited with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Soliai was released by the Falcons after refusing to take a pay cut. 

Soliai, 32, was signed as a free agent before the 2013 season when Falcons coach Mike Smith and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan thought they could generate a pass rush by collapsing the interior of opposing offensive lines.

Soliai signed a five-year, $32 million contract with $11 million guaranteed on March 11, 2013. Falcons saved $5.4 million by cutting Soliai with the post-June 1 designation.

Soliai was set to make $5 million in base salary in 2016, $4.5 million in 2017 and $6 million in 2018.

Soliai’s 2016 cap number of $6.83 million was the third-highest cap number on the team behind quarterback Matt Ryan ($23.7 million) and wide receiver Julio Jones ($15.9 million).

Soliai, who was a Pro Bowler with the Dolphins in 2011, started 10 of 14 games last season and was a part of the defensive line rotation. He played against the run, while quicker defensive tackles tried to rush the passer.

Last season he played 357 defensive snaps (34 percent), which was the third most amongst the tackles on the team behind Jonathan Babineaux (549, 52.3 percent) and Ra’Shede Hageman (419, 39.9 percent). Grady Jarrett played 267 defensive snaps (25.4 percent) and Joey Mbu played 55 snaps (5.2 percent).

Soliai did not have a sack last season and had just 22 tackles, according to the coaches’ film review, before finishing the season on injured reserve with a calf injury.

The Falcons, who finished last in the league in sacks with 19 and tied for last in the league in rushing touchdowns yielded (20), are trying to add some teeth in the defensive front this offseason.

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