Titans’ Finnegan Takes to Twitter to Explain His Walkout

Finnegan wrote Sunday that he had spoken with his coaches and teammates and would resume “all things asked.” He said his personal issue needed attention but that he would be back at practice Monday, when he will answer all questions.

“My absence had nothing to do with a holdout yet a personal matter that Titan officials were aware of. I am grateful for being a Titan,” Finnegan wrote in one post. “I am also thankful for my current contract and direction of team.”

The Titans first noticed Finnegan had left camp when he did not attend a special-teams practice Saturday morning, and General Manager Mike Reinfeldt said after practice Saturday afternoon that the team had tried unsuccessfully to reach Finnegan. Reinfeldt said the team was surprised he had left camp.

But Finnegan wrote that the Titans knew of his absence and were disappointed he was not there.

“Being absence from a team function doesnt mean holdout or your unhappy Family issues come up I’m human thank you Nashville for understanding,” Finnegan wrote.

EAGLES WAITING FOR JACKSON Eagles Coach Andy Reid said he was ignoring reports that wide receiver DeSean Jackson would end his holdout and report to training camp Monday, as various news media outlets have indicated.

“We’ll see,” Reid said. “I haven’t really focused on that. I haven’t talked to him. If he’s here, more power to him. If he’s not, like I told you before, my focus is to make sure that I get the guys that are here coached up.”

Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowler, will earn $565,000 this season, the last on his four-year rookie deal. If he does not report by Tuesday, he stands to lose a year of service time toward free agency.

FALCONS KEEP SNELLING Jason Snelling agreed to a one-year deal to return to the Atlanta Falcons. Snelling rushed for more than 900 yards while backing up Michael Turner the last two years. Snelling, who was a restricted free agent, participated in the team’s walkthrough practice on Sunday afternoon.

BRADFORD SHARP IN SCRIMMAGE quarterback Sam Bradford looked sharp executing the new St. Louis offense in the red zone during a scrimmage. Bradford completed 13 of 20 passes for 140 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Rams’ second-team defense. He threw one interception.

Bradford’s favorite target was Danny Amendola, who caught eight passes for 70 yards. Mike Sims-Walker caught three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.

The scrimmage involved running plays, third-down situations and red-zone work under the direction of the offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

The running game did not look as sharp. Cadillac Williams rushed six times for 16 yards. Jerious Norwood had three attempts for 7 yards. Steven Jackson, who was not on field much, had one carry for 3 yards.

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Turner, Falcons Run Past Woeful Panthers 31-10

CHARLOTTE, N.C.. The Atlanta Falcons still aren’t very flashy. They certainly didn’t wow anybody playing the NFL’s worst team Sunday.

All they do, seemingly, is win.

Michael Turner ran for 112 yards and three touchdowns, Matt Ryan threw for another and the Atlanta Falcons maintained their grasp on the best record in the NFC with a 31-10 victory over the .

The Falcons (11-2) built a 17-0 halftime lead, survived a brief hiccup to start the third quarter, and cruised to their seventh straight win. and Kroy Biermann each had two sacks, Mike Peterson picked off Jimmy Clausen and the Falcons became the latest team to shut down the league’s worst offense.

Jonathan Stewart rushed for a season-best 133 yards, but lost a fumble on Carolina’s first play from scrimmage to set up Atlanta’s first TD. Things didn’t get much better for the Panthers (1-12), who dropped their seventh straight stayed on track to get the top pick in the draft.

Atlanta inched closer to a playoff berth with the victory. With losing to Detroit, Atlanta would get in with a loss by the Eagles on Sunday night or the Giants on Monday thanks to Turner’s continued resurgence.

Turner, who sprained his ankle here last year to derail his season as Atlanta missed the playoffs, had TD runs of 1, 3 and 4 yards in his fifth straight 100-yard game against Carolina. He carried 28 times, getting increased work with backup Jason Snelling (hamstring) sidelined.

Ryan wasn’t particularly sharp, but completed 20 of 34 passes for 227 yards and an interception. Roddy White caught eight passes for 79 yards and Atlanta overcome an odd atmosphere amid Carolina’s horrible season.

With bundled-up owner Jerry Richardson watching stone-faced from his open-air box in the end zone, he saw thousands of empty blue seats and a team in disarray after his offseason cost-cutting.

The few fans that were on hand — the stadium was somewhere between a third and half full at the start — at least were making light of the situation. The loudest cheer early was when referee Clete Blakeman announced, “That is the end of the first quarter.”

At that point, the Panthers were being outgained 133-6. They didn’t get a first down — which also produced jeers — until early in the second quarter.

By the time the next mock fist pumps and yells for Carolina’ second first down, Abraham and Biermann each had two sacks and it was 17-0 nearing halftime.

Three plays after Stewart’s opening fumble, Ryan tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez. Ryan’s 46-yard pass to Harry Douglas, who burned rookie Robert McClain, set up Turner 1-yard TD run on the second series.

Against the NFL’s lowest-scoring team, that was more than enough despite Carolina’s brief spurt.

After gaining 33 yards in the first half, the Panthers got a 48-yard burst by Stewart and Mike Goodson’s 13-yard TD run on an 81-yard drive to start the third quarter to get within 17-7.

Stewart rumbled for 42 yards for the next possession, but a frazzled Clausen was sacked by Chauncey Davis on fourth down near midfield to end the drive.

The Falcons quickly pounced, with Ryan completing three passes to White before Turner’s twisting 3-yard TD run made it 24-7.

It left Carolina closer to finishing with the league’s worst record, getting the No. 1 draft pick and perhaps a chance to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Clausen was 14 of 24 for 107 yards, extending his streak to 193 passes since his lone TD of the season. Peterson picked him off midway through the fourth quarter off a deflected pass to set up Turner’s final TD. Clausen was also sacked five times.

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Smith Has Falcons Primed for a Long Playoff Run

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga.. The Atlanta Falcons are sitting atop the NFC standings at 7-2 and they’ve won three straight games.

Mike Smith thinks they deserve a break.

The coach gave his players the weekend off so they can recuperate from winning two close games in five days.

The Falcons feel their 26-21 victory Thursday over Baltimore proves they are as competitive as any team in the NFL.

“You can sense it when they walk into the locker room from practice, when they’re out there on the field, and this is a very close-knit group,” Smith said Friday. “These are men who know what their jobs are.”

The win against Baltimore is the kind of collective team performance that could give Atlanta confidence it can advance deep into the playoffs.

The defense held Baltimore scoreless on its first five possessions, and despite allowing touchdowns on three of the ‘ last five, played well overall.

Defensive ends , Kroy Biermann and Chauncey Davis combined for five solo tackles, one pass breakup, two sacks and two additional quarterback hits. Brent Grimes was beaten on two touchdown passes, but the left-side cornerback had the game’s only interception, and it led to a third-quarter field goal.

The offense built a 10-point lead as quarterback Matt Ryan ran a no-huddle offense exclusively throughout the first half. On the winning drive, the Falcons returned to the no-huddle, and Ryan completed three passes, including Roddy White’s second touchdown catch of the game.

Atlanta’s power running game was held to 60 yards rushing on 23 carries. Reserve Jason Snelling, who caught a 28-yard TD pass, played a bigger role than starter Michael Turner.

“We have definable roles for guys, but those roles can change,” Smith said. “They’re an unselfish group, and they know they have to be accountable to one another if we’re going to be successful.”

Smith, whose three-year stay in Atlanta includes a 22-1 record when his team begins the fourth quarter with a lead, was pleased with how well Ryan ran the no-huddle offense.

In his rookie season as the NFL’s No. 3 overall draft pick of 2008, Ryan called between 10-12 plays from the no-huddle. Now he calls 30-32 plays.

Atlanta’s no-huddle formations aren’t so much designed to speed up the pace of the offense as they are used to keep a defense from disguising coverages.

Before the snap, when his receivers take their place at the line of scrimmage, Ryan instructs each with a different route based on defensive alignment.

Ryan used the no-huddle throughout the first half to build a 10-point lead, and the Falcons brought it back on the winning drive.

“I thought he did a good job of getting us into the right plays based on the looks,” Smith said. “And the attack at the end of the game, you can’t operate any better than that.”

Though the Falcons’ offensive identity is based on a power running game, they changed their approach against Baltimore. In the first half, Ryan handed the ball to his running backs 14 times for 34 meager yards, but he completed 20 of 28 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown.

“We feel confident we know the system really well and we felt that it would keep some of what Baltimore did (defensively) vanilla,” Ryan said. “The plan wasn’t necessarily to come out and throw it on every snap, but that’s just kind of the looks we were getting.”

Smith loved the outcome for a team that’s 27-14 in his tenure and pushing for its second playoff berth in three years. He never doubted the outcome Thursday after Baltimore took a one-point lead with 1:05 remaining.

“There was an air of confidence about what needed to be done and what we were going to get done,” Smith said. “It was a heck of a drive in the last 65 seconds for us to win the game.”

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