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MessagePosté le: Mer 5 Sep - 07:35 (2018)    Sujet du message: fourth in the Répondre en citant

The last time the Atlanta Falcons picked an Alabama receiver in the first round of the NFL draft Nolan Cromwell Jersey , it worked out pretty well.

So, when Calvin Ridley was still on the board Thursday night at No. 26, they knew what to do.

Roll Tide!

The Falcons landed another Nick Saban receiver for their offensive arsenal, adding Ridley to a unit led by Julio Jones .

Jones, of course, played at Alabama.

Now, he's one of the NFL's best pass catchers.

Ridley can't wait to team up with him.

"I'm very excited to be coming in with Julio," Ridley said in a conference call, shortly after the Falcons announced their pick near the end of the draft's first day. "I know I'm going to learn a lot from him and become a better player, a better wide receiver. I'm just very, very happy to be in that organization."

His excitement was tempered somewhat by where he was picked in the draft .

Flashing the confidence that is a trademark of all great receivers, Ridley was clearly surprised that he didn't go much higher.

"I'm going to prove a lot of people wrong," he said. "I'm happy the Falcons selected me, but I could've been picked way before. I'm going to work hard and I'm going to prove everybody wrong who always doubted me. I'm going to make everybody believe."

The Falcons were eager to give quarterback Matt Ryan another deep threat, bolstering an offense that dipped in production last season after leading the NFL in scoring in 2016.

While defensive tackle was a priority Charles Haley Jersey , Atlanta couldn't pass up the chance to grab the 6-foot-1, 189-pound Ridley, who managed to stand out even while playing in a run-oriented offense on Alabama's national championship team . As a junior, he had 63 receptions for 967 yards and five touchdowns.

"This is another firepower weapon for us," general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "He will mix in very well in our offense."

In 2011, the Falcons pulled off a major trade with Cleveland to move up to No. 6 overall so they could grab Jones. He quickly emerged as one of the league's most dominant receivers, including 88 catches for 1,444 yards last season.

While Mohamed Sanu has put up decent numbers as the No. 2 receiver, he's not the sort of game-changer who can draw coverages away from Jones.

The Falcons feel Ridley has that potential.

"His ability to create separation from the defender is really powerful and explosive," coach Dan Quinn said. "We have a clear understanding of how to feature this guy in our system. We're real excited about the things he can do."

In an interesting twist, the final game of Ridley's college career was at the home of the Falcons. Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosted this year's thrilling national championship game , in which Ridley caught a 7-yard touchdown pass that tied the game in the closing minutes of regulation before Alabama defeated Southeastern Conference rival Georgia 26-23 in overtime.

Ridley will also be reunited with Steve Sarkisian, who was briefly the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator before taking the same role with the Falcons.

"He was real cool," Ridley recalled. "He was trying to get me that ball, I know that."

While the Falcons had no overly pressing needs after their second straight trip to the playoffs Kevin White Jersey , they were looking to bulk up the interior of the defensive line. Dontari Poe was lost in free agency, signing with division rival Carolina to leave a hole in Atlanta's run defense.

But with Ridley still on the board, the Falcons decided to address those needs later in the draft. They passed on the chance to draft another SEC player, Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who went shortly afterward to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 29.

"We definitely had other guys in our sights," Dimitroff said. "They're both very good football players. In the end, we decided to go with offense."

It was a change of philosophy from the last three years.

Since Quinn came aboard as coach in 2015, defense had been the No. 1 priority. The last three first-round picks were all from that side of the line: defensive end Vic Beasley Jr. in 2015, safety Keanu Neal in 2016 and end Takkarist McKinley a year ago.

Quinn smiled when asked if it was difficult to pass up another defensive player.

"We were prepared to go a couple of different ways," Quinn said. "When this opportunity came about, we felt it was the best one for our team."

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at s://apnews/search/paul newberry

A look at where things stand in the NBA playoff picture, with seven days remaining in the regular season:



EAST UPDATE

The field of eight is set. And now, it’s all about the seeding.

Toronto is on the brink of being No. 1, and Milwaukee cannot fall past No. 8.

The Raptors – who were starting to look a little shaky – beat Boston in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s two top teams this season. The win lowered Toronto’s magic number for clinching the No. 1 seed in the East to one; another Raptors win or Celtics loss will give Toronto home-court advantage for the entirety of the East playoffs.

Detroit’s loss to Philadelphia was the playoff-clincher for Milwaukee, which is making back-to-back playoff trips for the first time since the 2003 and 2004 postseasons. The victory also pulled the 76ers – now winners of 12 straight – even with Cleveland for the third-best record in the East at 48-30 Josh Sitton Jersey , with the Cavaliers holding the tiebreaker there.

Philadelphia hosts Cleveland on Friday, the second night of a back-to-back for the Cavaliers.

Miami, playing while Goran Dragic, James Johnson and Dwyane Wade all were held out, rolled to an easy win at Atlanta – and moved past Washington for outright control of the No. 6 spot (along with the Southeast Division lead, if that still matters).



WEST UPDATE

New Orleans strengthened its hold on a playoff spot with an easy win over Memphis. The Pelicans are only one game ahead of No. 9 Denver – yet also just one game behind No. 4 Utah.

The West is just a mess, at least in the race for the final five spots.

San Antonio could have gone to No. 4, but lost on the road in overtime to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs remained in the No. 5 spot, holding a tiebreaker edge over No. 6 Oklahoma City, and just a half-game up on No. 7 Minnesota and the currently eighth-seeded Pelicans.



THURSDAY’S GAMES

There are six games on the schedule and each one has playoff implications.

– Golden State at Indiana: Big for the Warriors in their quest to finish with the NBA’s second-best record (which would assure home-court advantage if they were to make the NBA Finals). Big for the Pacers if they want to move up to the No. 4 spot before the end of the season; they’ll remain fifth in the East when Thursday night ends regardless of the outcome.

– Washington at Cleveland: The Cavaliers will be a half-game ahead of Philadelphia and remain No. 3 in the East with a win, and fall a half-game behind the 76ers and into the No. 4 spot with a loss. The Wizards need to get back on track; they’ve lost six of eight, but now have John Wall back and still have time to find playoff form.

– Portland at Houston: The Blazers can move closer to locking up No. 3, though they likely won’t have Damian Lillard because of a left ankle injury. The Rockets are just looking to ensure they start the playoffs healthy; their No. 1 overall seed is sealed.

– Brooklyn at Milwaukee: The Bucks are part of that three-team tussle for No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8 in the East with Washington and Miami.

– L.A. Clippers at Utah: Huge game for both teams. It’s about as close to a must-win as can be for the Clippers. A Jazz win keeps coach Quin Snyder’s club in the driver’s seat for home-court advantage in Round 1.

– Minnesota at Denver: The Nuggets will start the day on the outside looking in – but control their destiny. Timberwolves fans, meanwhile Tracy Walker Jersey , are sweating it out to see if they’ll be getting any playoff games in Minneapolis for the first time since 2004.



CURRENT BRACKET

First-round matchups if the season ended Wednesday …

East: 1-Toronto vs. 8-Milwaukee, 2-Boston vs. 7-Washington, 3-Cleveland vs. 6-Miami, 4-Philadelphia vs. 5-Indiana.

West: 1-Houston vs. 8-New Orleans, 2-Golden State vs. 7-Minnesota, 3-Portland vs. 6-Oklahoma City, 4-Utah vs. 5-San Antonio.



NOTE OF THE DAY

A seven-way tie for fourth in the West is still possible, with everyone at 46-36. If that were to happen, one team with that record would get home-court advantage and two teams with that record would miss the playoffs entirely.



QUOTE OF THE DAY

”They’re going to be a tough out in the playoffs.” – Detroit’s Anthony Tolliver, on surging Philadelphia.



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