May 4, 2013; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan shown on the field at Falcons Rookie Camp at the Falcons Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Following a weekend rookie minicamp, the Atlanta Falcons feel they may have managed to steal a couple of linebacker prospects after failing to address that need during the draft.
Linebackers Nick Clancy and Joplu Bartu, both undrafted free agent rookies, were impressive in the three-day camp that ended Sunday.
"Clancy and Bartu did a nice job in the special teams stuff and that's really where those young linebackers are going to get their first opportunity to contribute," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "They both can run. We definitely saw that and I like the size of them."
Clancy took over last year for Luke Kuechly, who was the Carolina Panthers first round pick and made many lists as defensive rookie of the year after setting tackle records at Boston College.
Clancy, who had only 19 tackles as a backup in 2011, collected Kuechly-type stats with 145 tackles in 12 starts last year, good for fourth in the country.
However, scouts noted that too many tackles were well beyond the line of scrimmage and the type defense used should result in the middle linebacker making an inordinate number of tackles. However, his many stops downfield may have been explained in his poor 40-yard time of 4.93 seconds. So, despite the fact he looks the part at 6-2, 237, and had the numbers, Clancy was not even invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and went undrafted.
Bartu, listed at 6-2, 230, began last season at defensive end for Texas State, but was moved to linebacker. He made 71 tackles over his last five games, including 16 tackles against Louisiana Tech and Navy.
"They are very athletic," Smith said. "This is a big, athletic group in terms of the size of the guys. We have some guys with some really good size."Notes and quotes-- Defensive end John Abraham, who turned 35 Monday, not only retracted his tweets suggesting retirement, but according to ESPN's Adam Schefter is close to signing with the Tennessee Titans.
Abraham tweeted "Retiring 13" and "Done" last Saturday night. He then deleted the tweets.
Abraham, who collected 68.5 sacks in seven years with the Falcons, was released on March 1 and has visited Denver, Seattle, New England and Tennessee.
The Falcons have signed former New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora and drafted two defensive ends -- Malliciah Goodman (fourth round) and Stansly Maponga (fifth round).
Abraham is still a fan favorite and the Falcons faithful have put pressure on the team to get him back. "We never say never," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "There is a lot on the horizon. We have some decisions to make across the organization, but we never say never as far as acquiring or bringing people back." Now that depends on what happens between Abraham and the Titans.
-- Last season, the Falcons signed three players off of their performance during the rookie minicamp -- tight end Aron White, fullback Lee Meisner and wide receiver Kenny Stafford. Smith thinks the team may have found more nuggets this last weekend.
"I think there were some guys who really showed the skills that they had," Smith said. "We'll be making some decisions over the next couple of days in terms of if there is going to be any roster moves. There were some guys that came in here on a tryout basis who did a really nice job."
-- Former Falcons offensive lineman Tyson Clabo signed with the Miami Dolphins Sunday.
-- The Falcons will have three weeks of coaching sessions before starting their organized team activities on May 28. The mandatory minicamp is set for June 18-20.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Probably the one position that we were focused on thinking that we might be able to walk away with was the (weak-side) linebacker spot or a linebacker spot. As we started looking at other positions and the values and what we thought was the talent there, we thought it would override what we were looking at in the linebacker area." -- Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, discussing how it was the Falcons did not draft a linebacker.