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including me, Smith said after Mo
导出博客文章FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. Stitched Hurricanes Jerseys . - The Atlanta Falcons returned to work on Monday, a bit more upbeat after a week off.A look at the standings also gives them a reason to be hopeful.Amazingly, the Falcons are still in the mix despite a five-game losing streak.No one in the NFC South has a winning record midway through the season. The New Orleans Saints (4-4) lead pro footballs weakest division, while the Falcons (2-6) are only two games back.As bad as weve played, running back Jacquizz Rodgers said, were still in it.The Falcons are coming off one of their most discouraging losses in Mike Smiths seven years as coach. Playing in London before the bye week, Atlanta raced to a 21-0 lead on the Lions, only to lose 22-21 when Detroit kicked a field goal on the final play.Weve all had some rough moments, including me, Smith said after Mondays practice, trying to muster a smile.Given the brutal schedule, in which the Falcons have only one true home game in a two-month stretch, Smith gave his players the rest of the week off after they returned from Britain. But the coaching staff and front office did an assessment of the many areas that need improvement over the second half of the season.Its not good, Smith said. There are a lot of things weve got to get better at.In particular, he mentioned a lack of offensive efficiency, which was especially apparent when the Falcons squandered a chance to wrap up the game against Detroit. On their final possession, they ran only 22 seconds off the clock after the 2-minute warning — even though they started with a first down and Lions had only one timeout remaining. Atlanta stopped the clock twice — with a holding penalty and a dropped pass by Julio Jones — giving Detroit more than a minute longer than it shouldve had on its final drive.Next up for the Falcons: A trip to Tampa Bay to face their division rival Buccaneers (1-7), the last team to lose to Atlanta.In Week 3, the Bucs were thoroughly humiliated in a prime-time game at the Georgia Dome, falling behind 56-0 through the first three quarters. They scored a couple of meaningless touchdowns in the final period of the 56-14 blowout.Theyre going to come at us with their best shot, Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant said. Anytime you have a game like that, you know the opponent is going to come back with something to prove.The Falcons practiced in shorts for a little over an hour on a sunny fall day, getting a head start on their preparations for Tampa Bay. Normally, Mondays are devoted to getting treatment and looking at film from the previous days game.Defensive lineman Jonathan Babineaux, who didnt play against the Lions because of a foot injury, took part in the workout though Smith described him as limited. He is expected to be at full speed when the team practices again on Wednesday, the coach said.Also, the Falcons are hopeful that receiver Drew Davis is close to returning from a broken foot after spending the first half of the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, hell take part in the next practice; that will start a 21-day countdown, after which the team must put him on the active roster or declare him out for the rest of the year.Injuries have been a huge problem for the Falcons, especially along the offensive line. That unit has lost five players to season-ending injuries, leaving undrafted rookie James Stone as the starting centre.Its crazy, Stone said. I cant sit here and tell you I expected this to happen at the beginning of the year.Even crazier, the Falcons are still a contender in the NFC South. If they can somehow find a way to turn things around the next two weeks — the Tampa Bay game will be followed by another road trip within the NFC South, against the Carolina Panthers (3-5-1) — the schedule finally takes a favourable turn. Four of the final six games are at home.This division is not winning as much as it usually does, Trufant said. So weve still got a chance. We know that. Were going to continue to prepare, continue to fight.___Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at Carolina Hurricanes Pro Shop .Tzavelas opened the scoring in the 11th and Pereyra added another in the 51st. Emmanuel Kone pulled one back in the 80th and Levadiakos missed several chances to level in the last 10 minutes. Hurricanes Jerseys China . - Hitting was supposed to be the Pittsburgh Pirates weakness coming into the season yet they lead the major leagues in home runs through the first 16 games of the season. . Scrivens stopped 48 shots and captain Andrew Ference scored in overtime as the Oilers pulled off a 4-3 upset of the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.History and Controversy in Week 2 The Ottawa Redblacks will go through a lot of firsts this year. On Thursday we witnessed the first game played by the new franchise, the first touchdown scored, (Chevon Walker, who will one day be the answer to a trivia question), and almost the first win. The Henry Burris-led expansion franchise got out to a 14-point first quarter lead, but couldnt hold on against a Blue Bomber team that is for real. More on the Bombers shortly, but it was fantastic to see and call a game involving Ottawa again. Football teams in our nations capital never had bad fans, just bad owners, and that is not the case this time around. The business model is sound, the league is strong, and football fans in Ottawa can trust that this team will be around for decades to come, and get emotionally invested. The players on this team are certainly "all in". They played hard, on the road, in a hostile environment, and almost got it done. It wont be long until we see some more firsts. Like the first game at home which is already sold out on July 18, and based on Thursdays game it wont be long until we see their first win. The Real Deal Now to the Bombers, and yes they are for real! On paper there still may be some who are suggesting other teams in the league are more talented, or maybe more experienced. However, this is a "what have you done for me lately?" business so experience only helps you if you are executing. Also, at the pro level every player is talented, and the difference between winning and losing is smaller than third and inches, so the culture you create for those talented players is what gives you the edge. The difference in Winnipeg this year is that head coach Michael OShea is a team first guy to the core. It oozes out of him when he talks and it is the main reason the Bombers are off to a 2-0 start. Yes, Drew Willy has looked excellent and they have found a tailback in Nic Grigsby but lots of teams have good QBs and tailbacks. OShea is teaching that the team is the priority and that all decisions must be made with the team considered before any personal agendas. It sounds simple but there are many examples of coaches that couldnt get the message across to their players. OShea has not been perfect. He kicked around the handling of veteran Korey Banks for longer than he had to, but his teams record is perfect so far, and that is what matters more than anything. Oh, and in the end the Bombers new head coach did eventually make the right decision when it came to Banks when he cut him loose. Banks wasnt happy with his role and that may have affected the culture in the locker room. By cutting Banks and letting him continue his career somewhere else, OShea made a team-first decision. Reaction to Willis hit on Collaros There are lots of differing opinions on the hit from Odell Willis of the Edmonton Eskimos on Zach Collaros of the Ticats. On one side there are those that argue the game is fast, physical and played by tough men who know what they signed up for, which is all true. It is an old school mentality and its not wrong. However, we live in a new world where player safety has become a priority in contact sports. Finding ways to make hockey and football safer for those who participate is not just dominating league meetings, but is also very important to the playerrs associations. Carolina Hurricanes Store. So what about the hit from Willis? First, it looked like the Esks defensive end did try and turn his head and avoid helmet-to-helmet contact. Second, it also looked like he tried to lead with his shoulder, therefore you can assume that there was no intent to target Collaros head. It is also true that if there is a penalty flag thrown every time helmets collide than there would be a penalty called on every play. Having said all of that, if in fact Willis did contact the head of Collaros - whether it was an accident or not - a penalty had to be called. Many times a defensive player gets pushed or trips into the quarterbacks legs accidentally, and that has to be called as well. The league will also review the hit and there could be supplementary discipline handed down in the form of a fine. It is no longer acceptable to say that it is a tough game and things happen at light speed so you have to let the guys play. Improving player safety is priority number one, and has become a legal issue. In fact you could take the discussion even further. The Players Associations in hockey and football are negotiating the player safety agenda into new CBA agreements, and yet dont self-govern when it comes to questionable hits in a game. How many times have we heard the CFLPA announce that they are appealing a fine by the league on a player who has made a questionable hit? It happens virtually every time a player is fined or suspended. Meanwhile the player that took the hit, in this case Zach Collaros, missed the rest of the game and could possibly miss more due to concussion issues. How many times has the Players Association announced a fine within their own organization to a player/member for a questionable hit? That to my knowledge has never happened. The players associations in contact sports have got to start imposing their own fines to players that cross the line, and show the league that improving player safety is not just the responsibility of the leagues head office, but the associations as well. It looks like the hit by Willis was an accident with no intent, but it was to the head of a quarterback, and that is a penalty and should also result in a fine. There is no provision in the rule book that says, "if the player hits a quarterback in the head by accident, or if he didnt mean to do it, then the hit becomes legal." The only way that Willis could avoid a fine here is if the league determines that Collaros didnt actually get hit in the head but it was the whiplash effect that caused his concussion symptoms, and of the TV angles shown so far that doesnt seem feasible. The tougher rules in contact sports these days are designed to change the behaviour of players to protect them from themselves. Those rules are not going away anytime soon, in fact they are getting tougher. We might as well all get used to it and drop the tough guy talk. If the league lets the Willis hit go without supplementary discipline, it will set a precedent for every other time a defensive player hits the head of a quarterback accidentally. There cant be any more grey area. If a defensive player hits the head of a QB, it is a penalty and a fine or suspension - thats the new reality of football. So much so, it is hard to see why there was even a debate on this hit in the first place. ' ' '

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