Falcons Start New Center Heading To London
None of the 32 teams in the NFL drafted James Stone in May. He was lucky enough to show enough promise that he made the Atlanta Falcons take a long hard look at him. On Sunday, when the team takes on the Detroit Lions in London, Stone will be the starting center as both Joe Hawley and Peter Konz have both gone down with injuries.
This according to Jay Adams and the Falcons website.
Stone has been named the starting center on the latest unofficial Falcons depth chart, released Tuesday.
Konz left last week's loss to Baltimore in the first quarter with a knee injury, placing Stone, a University of Tennesse product, into an ever-changing offensive line. Stone performed well in his first extended action after seeing some time in two games previously.
The change is just another in a long line for the Falcons' front five, especially for Matt Ryan, who will be getting used to his third center this season with Konz and Joe Hawley on injured reserve.
"I thought James Stone did a great job of coming in and filling in for Peter," Ryan said Monday. "It's been one of the things that, this year, guys have had to step up and come in and play, especially on the offensive line, through some injuries."
Stone played in 45 games with 39 starts at Tennessee, including starts in each of his last 24 games. Last season, was named to the Rimington Award watch list, helping the Volunteers gain 2,261 rushing yards, the school’s highest total since 2004.
Harland Gunn will back Stone up at center, as well as at both guard positions. Newly signed tackle Jonathan Scot tis listed as the third string for both tackle positions.
Team looking forward to London (AtlantaFalcons.com)
Relocating Flowery Branch operations to London is no small task (more on that later today) and trying to find a routine among the festival atmosphere for the NFL's International Series could prove to be challenging, but the Falcons are set on controlling what they can control.
That means making the most of the opportunities to make the week in London just like any other week of game preparations, thousands of miles away from Flowery Branch or not.
"It's just like any other road game," head coach Mike Smith said Monday. "What we're trying to do is we're trying to make this like a home game. This is one of our eight home games that we have, so our schedule of the week will be the same as when we came over."
Immediately following their arrival in London, the Falcons set off to participate in a Play 60 event at a local school — an activity usually reserved for Tuesdays during a normal game week — and then got settled in at their hotel and headquarters for the week.
The players will have a CBA-mandated day off Tuesday before getting right into their normal game week preparations with walkthroughs and practices Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Saturday will provide a break from the norm as the team will participate in a fan fest at Trafalgar Square, but at the conclusion of that event, it's right back to focusing on Detroit and winning in Week 8.
"You've got to get on a time schedule where you can get some sleep and things like that because that's going to be important for the game," wide receiver Roddy White said. "We've got to do a lot of focusing on just getting our bodies and minds right for this chance, this opportunity that we've got over here in London."