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Roam the Dome Report

Reader TomQ and likely starting safety Thomas DeCoud

Thanks to gritzblitz for wearing the official Falcoholic tee. Kudos for Hardcore Falcon and his son donning Bartkowski's number. And finally, appreciative hat-tip to TomQ for making a great event companion and being the official "Falcoholic Rome the Dome photographer."

Roam the Dome was a unique experience, one that I highly doubt many other teams do for their fans. The no-contact "mock game" may pale in comparison to Friday’s "Friday Night Lights" game or a real season game, but it offered a lot of insight into how the team is shaping up.

The team opened the event with several punt return practices. The returners rotated out and included Eric Weems, Chandler Williams, and Brian Finneran among their number.

  • Finn didn’t return a single one; instead he just fair caught the balls within the twenty yard line.

  • Brent Grimes showed some fancy footwork and managed a forty or so yard return.

  • Chandler Williams was decent, finding about thirty yards of running room on one return.

Just about all receivers got their shot yesterday. Brian Finneran and Michael Jenkins continued to be our starting two while Troy Bergeron worked out in HD’s third slot on the Red team, and the rest of the receivers rotated in and out with the White team (second/third stringers).

  • The most impressive white jersey wearing receiver was Eric Weems, who seemed to catch just about everything that came his way. Weems would always find yards after the catch. In one situation, when lining up for John Parker Wilson, Chris Houston managed to clap his hands on a ball intended for Weems near the red zone. Weems, having turned to watch this, still made the catch and took the Wilson-led offense to the sixteen yard line.
  • Troy Bergeron looked very comfortable in the third receiver slot and only lost one pass thrown at him (granted, Ryan threw it a bit high)
  • Aaron Kelly, while not explosive, did make a few athletic grabs, at one point seeming to use his long arms to, as TomQ put it, "catch the ball out of nowhere."
  • Michael Jenkins made some very impressive catches. One of them came on a third down situation. Ryan under-threw a pass but Jenkins, ever aware, spun around, caught the ball, and earned the first down, bringing the Red team into the red zone and setting up the best catch of the game.
  • Speaking of the best catch of the game, Tony G owns it. On first and goal, Ryan rolled out and after bouncing a moment, floated a ball over a double-covered Gonzo. Tony simply reached up with his mile-long arms, grabbed the ball, and voila, Ryan-to-Gonzo in the redzone is born. The crowd erupted.
  • Brian Finneran was, as usual, golden on third down, but he also found himself catching on first and second down as well. Reliable to a fault, Finn never missed a catch. While he may not be as dynamic or athletic as the newly extended White, you can bet your bottom dollar that Finn won’t drop a crucial ball.
  • Tony G made one more impressive catch when a Redman ball came to him a bit bobbled. Tony grabbed it, felt it to start to leave his fingers, and then tucked his elbows and hauled the ball into his chest. That’s what experience brings.

Now, onto QBs!

  • Chris Redman looked to be locked into the second QB spot. He led the Red team to a touchdown and utilized every offensive weapon we have, including Tony G. He rolled out quickly and kept drives alive on third down.
  • DJ Shockley saw one drive stall in field goal range and another end with a fumble. To his credit, he only overthrew receivers a couple of times and never once found himself without someone to throw too. His throws were zingers so it’s not a surprise some of the softer-handed receivers couldn’t hold on.
  • John Parker Wilson was impressive between the end zones, keeping drives alive with well thrown passes and reaching the endzone twice. He even used his own feet to gain the four yards needed on 3rd and 4 when his receivers were well covered. His endzone play was, unfortunately, not as spectacular. When facing the uprights, Wilson seemed to force things, rolling out frantically in order to get away from defensive players. This undoubtedly led to his inability to find a receiver either time he was on the goal line. He did make one good pass to TE Jason Rader in the end zone, but it was easily pawed away by Chris Houston. Wilson did end up being the only QB with an INT, and it came via…

Brent Grimes!

  • Not only did Brent show off his ability as a possible punt returner, he managed to haul in a John Parker Wilson endzone pass that seemed way too high for any normal human being to catch. Grimes, likely shorter than many of the team’s ball boys, jumped three stories high and made a spectacular interception. So amazing was it that the Dome production crew played the replay twice.
  • As for the rest of the secondary, they kept the White team QBs honest and broke up a few passes. Their coverage was air-tight at times. Other than that, they really didn’t make many standout plays.

Follow the jump for more pics!

William Moore signs my Falcons helmet.
Chris Redman takes his turn signing the helm.
DeCoud and tlozwarlock
The Dome Field. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy, doesn't it?
The team stretches before the mock game

More pictures to come!