Falcons' new brass to get look at roster before draft

ATLANTA --- A three-day minicamp next week will provide new Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff a look at their veteran players in practice situations.


The minicamp begins Monday and may help Dimitroff and his staff make final decisions about the team's most pressing needs in the April 26-27 NFL Draft.

The Falcons have filled some needs through free agency, signing running back Michael Turner , kicker Jason Elam , tight end Ben Hartsock , and defensive backs Erik Coleman and Von Hutchins .

This will be the first chance for Smith and Dimitroff to look at veteran quarterbacks Chris Redman , Joey Harrington and D.J. Shockley in live football situations on the practice fields.

Dimitroff must decide if he will look for a quarterback high in the draft.

The Falcons have the No. 3 overall pick, four picks in the first two rounds and 10 selections overall.

"We're going to be a young football team, enthusiastic," Smith said.

The Falcons cut running back Warrick Dunn , tight end Alge Crumpler and defensive tackle Rod Coleman . In addition, they traded cornerback DeAngelo Hall after going 4-12 last season.

Redman is expected to open the season as the starting quarterback, but the Falcons are expected to draft a quarterback. They may consider Boston College's Matt Ryan with the third overall pick.

PANTHERS: Receiver Dwayne Jarrett has pleaded not guilty to driving while impaired.

Jarrett did not attend a brief hearing Friday where his attorney entered the plea. Mecklenburg County District Court spokesman Charles Keller said a trial date was set for June 23.

MOVING ON: Bryant Gumbel has given up his role as an NFL Network play-by-play announcer after two seasons.

The NFL Network said it was looking for a new play-by-play announcer to work with Cris Collinsworth on the network's Thursday and Saturday night games.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to call NFL Network games the past two years, which was a new experience for me," Gumbel said in a statement. "But we've agreed that we'd all be better served going in different directions."


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