Changing places: Falcons CB Robinson to make biggest impact

The Falcons allowed an alarming 55 explosive passing plays (20 yards or more) last season — including eight for touchdowns, according to STATS, Inc. — which partly explains why Atlanta slipped from an 11-5 playoff team in ’08 to a 9-7 also-ran in ’09.

Tedd Ginn enters his fourth NFL season with the 49ers after spending three years in Miami.
Tedd Ginn enters his fourth NFL season with the 49ers after spending three years in Miami.

Falcons officials say the addition of Dunta Robinson, a physical cornerback who played his first six NFL seasons in Houston, will help them rebound in ’10.

"Dunta has been a very effective corner in this league," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "He’s a guy who has played both left and right corner as well as what we call ‘matchup corner,’ who goes and matches a specific receiver (all over the field). And he’s a guy who has played nickel and lined up as a slot receiver as well.

"That skill set allows us to have a lot of flexibility in what (defensive coordinator) Brian VanGorder and his staff want to do in terms of trying to shore up the defense’s deficiencies from 2009."

A look at nine other players who should make big impacts on their new teams in ’10:

Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens. After playing second fiddle to Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, Boldin is expected to be the No. 1 man in a revamped receiving corps that also includes Donte’ Stallworth.

"(Boldin) fits right in as a Raven," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He plays smart, tough and with physicality."

Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers. A ’07 first-round pick of the Dolphins, Ginn was a bust in Miami as a receiver/returner. Once the Dolphins acquired Brandon Marshall, they were willing to trade Ginn for a fifth-round draft pick. Niners coach Mike Singletary says Ginn can add something to the team’s receiving corps.

"He can help our offense significantly by just continuing to perfect his skills and really work at the craft of being a wideout and not just a special teams guy," Singletary said.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals. Although Gresham missed the ’09 season at Oklahoma with a knee injury, Bengals coaches proclaimed him their starting tight end as soon as they selected him with the 21st pick in April’s draft.

"He has special abilities," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong, he catches the ball with strong hands and he likes contact. So he has all the things you’re looking for."

Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs. Running backs are supposed to decline once they turn 30. Since he hit that mark, Jones has had back-to-back seasons of 1,312 and 1,402 yards rushing. Despite that production, the Jets allowed Jones to skate away in the offseason.

"He had a great year last year, and I think he’s playing with a chip on this shoulder," Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. "He wants to come in and get something done."

Gerald McCoy, DT, Bucs. Tampa Bay took McCoy, another former Oklahoma standout, with the third-overall pick in the draft because they believe the 3-technique tackle can be the linchpin of the defense.

"He has the ability to come in and lead the defense and help us get back to the dominance we have shown in the past," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "He is the type of player where teams really have to focus on him and game-plan around him."

Brodney Pool, S, Jets. Coach Rex Ryan says Pool, a former Browns player, has a chance to win the free safety spot, left open when Kerry Rhodes was traded to Arizona, and join arguably the best secondary in the league.

"He’ll be out there with the No. 1 defense in football and starting, so I think he’s going to be a major contributor," Ryan said. "This guy has a lot of ability in the back end, and I think he’s going to make a lot of plays for us."

Fred Robbins, DT, Rams. Although Robbins is 33 and heading into his 11th season, Rams coaches say he still can make plays. If the season opened tomorrow, in fact, he would be a starter. Coach Steve Spagnuolo also likes the leadership Robbins brings to a young Rams roster.

Patrick Robinson, CB, Saints. Although Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter formed a solid cornerback tandem last season, the Super Bowl champions struggled a bit when Greer missed seven games with a sports hernia and Porter was sidelined for four games with a sprained knee. Feeling you can never have too much depth in the secondary, the Saints selected Robinson with the final pick in the first round.

"I like the fact that he can run, and I like his size," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "He’s got good ball skills and has good range."

Lito Sheppard, CB, Vikings. With Cedric Griffin (torn ACL) expected to miss the start of training camp, this former Eagles cornerback will compete for the spot opposite Antoine Winfield.

"I’m happy to have Lito as part of the equation," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "Lito has been around, and he has a chance to make an impact."

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

The Falcons allowed an alarming 55 explosive passing plays (20 yards or more) last season — including eight for touchdowns, according to STATS, Inc. — which partly explains why Atlanta slipped from an 11-5 playoff team in ’08 to a 9-7 also-ran in ’09.

Tedd Ginn enters his fourth NFL season with the 49ers after spending three years in Miami.
Tedd Ginn enters his fourth NFL season with the 49ers after spending three years in Miami.

Falcons officials say the addition of Dunta Robinson, a physical cornerback who played his first six NFL seasons in Houston, will help them rebound in ’10.

"Dunta has been a very effective corner in this league," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "He’s a guy who has played both left and right corner as well as what we call ‘matchup corner,’ who goes and matches a specific receiver (all over the field). And he’s a guy who has played nickel and lined up as a slot receiver as well.

"That skill set allows us to have a lot of flexibility in what (defensive coordinator) Brian VanGorder and his staff want to do in terms of trying to shore up the defense’s deficiencies from 2009."

A look at nine other players who should make big impacts on their new teams in ’10:

Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens. After playing second fiddle to Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, Boldin is expected to be the No. 1 man in a revamped receiving corps that also includes Donte’ Stallworth.

"(Boldin) fits right in as a Raven," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He plays smart, tough and with physicality."

Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers. A ’07 first-round pick of the Dolphins, Ginn was a bust in Miami as a receiver/returner. Once the Dolphins acquired Brandon Marshall, they were willing to trade Ginn for a fifth-round draft pick. Niners coach Mike Singletary says Ginn can add something to the team’s receiving corps.

"He can help our offense significantly by just continuing to perfect his skills and really work at the craft of being a wideout and not just a special teams guy," Singletary said.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals. Although Gresham missed the ’09 season at Oklahoma with a knee injury, Bengals coaches proclaimed him their starting tight end as soon as they selected him with the 21st pick in April’s draft.

"He has special abilities," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong, he catches the ball with strong hands and he likes contact. So he has all the things you’re looking for."

Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs. Running backs are supposed to decline once they turn 30. Since he hit that mark, Jones has had back-to-back seasons of 1,312 and 1,402 yards rushing. Despite that production, the Jets allowed Jones to skate away in the offseason.

"He had a great year last year, and I think he’s playing with a chip on this shoulder," Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. "He wants to come in and get something done."

Gerald McCoy, DT, Bucs. Tampa Bay took McCoy, another former Oklahoma standout, with the third-overall pick in the draft because they believe the 3-technique tackle can be the linchpin of the defense.

"He has the ability to come in and lead the defense and help us get back to the dominance we have shown in the past," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "He is the type of player where teams really have to focus on him and game-plan around him."

Brodney Pool, S, Jets. Coach Rex Ryan says Pool, a former Browns player, has a chance to win the free safety spot, left open when Kerry Rhodes was traded to Arizona, and join arguably the best secondary in the league.

"He’ll be out there with the No. 1 defense in football and starting, so I think he’s going to be a major contributor," Ryan said. "This guy has a lot of ability in the back end, and I think he’s going to make a lot of plays for us."

Fred Robbins, DT, Rams. Although Robbins is 33 and heading into his 11th season, Rams coaches say he still can make plays. If the season opened tomorrow, in fact, he would be a starter. Coach Steve Spagnuolo also likes the leadership Robbins brings to a young Rams roster.

Patrick Robinson, CB, Saints. Although Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter formed a solid cornerback tandem last season, the Super Bowl champions struggled a bit when Greer missed seven games with a sports hernia and Porter was sidelined for four games with a sprained knee. Feeling you can never have too much depth in the secondary, the Saints selected Robinson with the final pick in the first round.

"I like the fact that he can run, and I like his size," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "He’s got good ball skills and has good range."

Lito Sheppard, CB, Vikings. With Cedric Griffin (torn ACL) expected to miss the start of training camp, this former Eagles cornerback will compete for the spot opposite Antoine Winfield.

"I’m happy to have Lito as part of the equation," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "Lito has been around, and he has a chance to make an impact."

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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