Flying Falcons Football 

Atlanta Hawks Notes, Quotes

Hawks forward Josh Childress had something else in mind when he talked about wanting to experience the NBA playoffs. But until the Hawks reach that level, he'll have to settle for summer work like the kind he got when he worked as a special guest reporter for NBA TV during Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

"Hopefully, I won't be available this time next year," Childress said. "We need to be playing this time next year. As much fun as it should be working on the other side, somebody else can have this job next year."
Last year Hawks coach Mike Woodson escorted rookies Childress and Josh Smith to playoff games so they could witness the increased levels of intensity and pressure in person. This summer, he doesn't have to prod. Because a month after their season ended, the Hawks have yet to truly embrace the offseason.

Smith eyeballed the playoffs up close during the first round as a sideline reporter for NBA TV during the New Jersey-Indiana series. And both Al Harrington and Salim Stoudamire took in playoff games in Los Angeles -- Lakers-Suns and Clippers-Nuggets -- from the stands as opposed to watching them from a recliner or a beach chair.

"When you feel like you were as close as we were, it's hard to stay away," said Harrington, a co-captain for the 26-56 Hawks this season and a free agent this summer.

"This is what we do, not just during the season but all year long. If guys aren't already into their summer routine, they're probably getting ready to start. And that's the only way to make it to the playoffs. You have to start preparing for [the next season] today."

Can you feel the draft?

You know me and my love for the triumvirate, golf, football and track and field, not necessarily in that order.

With that as our basis, they might want to consider changing April to Ron's Month. Of course, there's the Masters, and then on the final weekend in April the Penn Relays. The annual NFL draft shares that late April spotlight with track and field.

This won't be the most talented draft we've ever seen, but it might turn out to the most interesting. What's going to make it perhaps even fascinating is the unprecedented free agent activity since the year rolled over into 2006.

Here's what could unfold No.1 to No. 32 in the first round.

1. Texans Is there anything more certain in sports than Houston nabbing Reggie Bush No. 1 I'm still mystified however, that absolutely no one sees the USC star as the next Steve Smith.

2. Saints They got their man in QB Drew Brees, and to balance the scale they could go after N.C. State defensive end Mario Williams.

3. Titans I think it would be a monumental upset in draft history, if Tennessee doesn't choose quarterback Matt Leinart.

4. Jets They could fill a need at every position. They can't miss if they go for Virginia offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

5. Packers Everybody says the Pack is in love with Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk, and he'll be the fifth player taken by Green Bay.

6. 49ers Lowly San Francisco needs more help than the Jets and they'll start rebuilding with Maryland tight end Vernon Davis.

7. Raiders Oakland will be thrilled if Texas quarterback Vincent Young is still on the board.

8. Bills Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata could be great. Not good, great! He's a human wall.

9. Lions Although I'm sure Matt Millen has his heart set on a wide receiver, look for Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler to be the Lions quarterback of the future

10. Cardinals Denny Green has plenty of individual talent. Offensive tackle Winston Justice from USC will allow Arizona to inch closer to contending.

11. Rams The best defensive back in the draft is Texas's Michael Huff and he'll be a star in St. Louis.

12. Browns Tamba Hali, Penn State defensive end could become immediate star of front line.

13. Ravens The biggest acquisition for GM Ozzie Newsome would be Tennessee QB Steve McNair but they could also acquire Miami offensive tackle Eric Winston.

14. Eagles Philadelphia, desperate for wide receiver help, will go for Florida's Chad Jackson from Birmingham. This guy actually did little last season but did have a mind-blowing Combine.

15. Broncos Received Falcons pick here; could go for FSU defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley, the man Atlanta liked.

16. Dolphins Cornerback Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech. Look at the range on this guy 6-foot-3, almost 220 pounds with great speed.

17. Vikings Ernie Sims of Florida State could be second outside linebacker to go after Hawk.

18. Cowboys Could use top-rated offensive guard Davin Joseph of Oklahoma.

19. Chargers Jonathon Joseph (no relation) of South Carolina will be first of three consecutive DBs selected from the state.

20. Chiefs Kansas City will be thrilled with Clemson cornerback Tye Hill who has speed to burn.

21. Patriots - Pats remain consistent with another obscure but productive choice in South Carolina safety Ko Simpson.

22. Broncos - Someone wrote that Denver doesn't have any major needs. As the church lady would say, ?Isn't that special.? Broncs could choose Tennessee safety Jason Allen.

23. Bucs - They have several needs but if they go for Auburn offensive tackle Marcus MacNeil, Chris Sims and Cadillac Williams will improve exponentially.

24. Bengals - I find it hard to believe he'll fall this far but if he does, the Bengals can't fail to pick Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, my early choice as defensive rookie of the year.

25. Giants - Thought they had Keyshawn Johnson but he went after the bigger paycheck with the Panthers. They'll surely choose a receiver or a defensive back.

26. Bears Without a doubt, Chicago still have enormous questions at quarterback. Taking a wide receiver like Santonio Holmes from Ohio State, could improve the situation.

27. Panthers They're expected to latch on to FSU defensive back Antonio Cromartie, who is coming off a season which he did not play because of injury. He could be to the defense what DeShaun Foster has been to the offense - sometimes sensational - sometimes unavailable.

28 Jaguars - Jack Del Rio and his Jacksonville team only have six picks. They need offensive line help but could zero in on Georgia tight end Leonard Pope.

29. Broncos - With a second first-round pick, Denver is said to have its focus on N.C. State's other defensive lineman Manny Lawson.

30. Colts - The position they must solidify is running back since the defection of Edgerrin James, and they could have their choice of LSU's Joseph Addai, Minnesota's Laurence Maroney or Memphis great DeAngelo Williams. Something tells me they like Maroney.

31. Seahawks - Seattle got go to the Super Bowl and may go all the way if they find a defensive back near the end of the first round.

32. Steelers - They say that LenDale White is dropping faster than Dick Cheney's approval rating and he may be available to the Steelers. Willie Parker and White in the same backfield sounds formidable.

The Washington Redskins, sometimes known as the N.Y. Yankees for their penchant in buying all available talent, don't have a pick in the first round but they did go out and get Brandon Lloyd, an excellent wide receiver from the 49ers, who hasn't however, played to his potential.

Falcons Announce 2006 Schedule

The 2006 NFL schedule was released on Thursday. The Atlanta Falcons will face six playoff teams from last season -- Tampa Bay, Carolina, Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Washington and the New York Giants.

The Falcons are currently scheduled to have two nationally televised games, in Week 3 against New Orleans on ESPN and in Week 15 against Dallas on NFL Network. This may change in the latter half of the season, thanks to the league's new flexible scheduling program. The new program allows competitive Sunday afternoon games from Weeks 10-15 and Week 17 to be moved to a Sunday evening timeslot, and airing on NBC's "Football Night in America" (and locally on 11Alive).

The Falcons' first three games of the season will be against divisional rivals in the NFC South, including a Monday Night Football trip to New Orleans on September 25 to take on the Saints in the first game to be played in the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina devestated the Crescent City.

The Bye weekend is in Week 5, on October 8. The Falcons will play one Saturday game this season, on December 16, when they host Dallas.

Sun., Sep. 10 at Carolina 1 p.m. FOXSun., Sep. 17 TAMPA BAY 1 p.m. FOXMon., Sep. 25 at New Orleans 8:30 p.m. ESPNSun., Oct. 1 ARIZONA 1 p.m. FOXSun., Oct. 8 BYE Sun., Oct. 15 N.Y. GIANTS 1 p.m. FOXSun., Oct. 22 PITTSBURGH 1 p.m. CBSSun., Oct. 29 at Cincinnati 1 p.m. FOXSun., Nov. 5 at Detroit 1 p.m. FOXSun., Nov. 12 CLEVELAND 1 p.m. CBSSun., Nov. 19 at Baltimore 1 p.m. FOXSun., Nov. 26 NEW ORLEANS 1 p.m. FOXSun., Dec. 3 at Washington 1 p.m. FOXSun., Dec. 10 at Tampa Bay 1 p.m. FOXSat., Dec. 16 DALLAS 8 p.m. NFL NetworkSun., Dec. 24 CAROLINA 1 p.m. FOXSun., Dec. 31 at Philadelphia 1 p.m. FOXGames listed in CAPS are home games.

Panthers open against Falcons, play two on Monday Night Football

The Carolina Panthers will open the season at home against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 10 and will play twice on Monday Night Football in 2006.

The NFL released the entire schedule Thursday, and the Panthers will play Monday night games against Tampa Bay on Nov. 13 and at Philadelphia on Dec. 4.

Carolina will also play one Sunday night game, against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 29. That game will pit newly acquired receiver Keyshawn Johnson against his former team.

The Panthers will also host the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 17.

Carolina closes the regular season with a pair of road games, at Atlanta on Dec. 24 and at New Orleans on Dec. 31.

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