Preseason magazines that specialize in extensive NFL coverage have been pretty favorable to the Atlanta Falcons in recent years based on the club's three-year record of 33-15, an NFC South Division title in 2010 and two trips to the NFC playoffs in three seasons.
This year, Sporting News — one of the nation's top and most prestigious magazines dedicated to sports — has selected an NFL-high 11 Falcons to their NFC South All-Division team that appears in the magazine's 2011 NFL preview edition.
Headlining the list is Falcons three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White, who finished the 2010 season with a career-high and NFL-best 115 catches.
White, who also recorded his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2010 (franchise-record 1,389 receiving yards), also earned his first Associated Press All-Pro selection, receiving 47 of a possible 50 votes.
The two other Falcons who joined White on the offensive side of the ball were future Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Michael Turner. Gonzalez, who has made 11 trips to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl during his storied 14-year NFL career, holds NFL tight end records for career receptions (1,069), receiving yards (12,463), touchdown catches (88) and 100-yard receiving games (27). Turner earned his second trip to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl game last season after leading all NFC rushers with 1,371 yards and tying Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson for NFL honors with 12 rushing touchdowns.
Falcons players named to TSN's All-NFC South defensive unit include defensive end John Abraham (13 sacks in 2010), defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (31 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles), outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas (career-best 87 tackles, one interception), cornerback Dunta Robinson (60 tackles, one interception, seven pass breakups and strong safety William Moore (108 tackles, one forced fumble, one recovered fumble). Falcons' kicker Matt Bryant (28-of-31 FGs) and kick returner Eric Weems (franchise-record 102-yard kick-off return for a touchdown and a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown) round out the club's selections with Weems being selected as the NFC South's top kick returner and punt returner.
In addition to the Falcons dominating the NFC South All-Division team, Turner is featured in the Front Row section located on Page 6 of the magazine's NFL preview edition. Sporting News has also picked the Falcons to qualify for the 2011 NFC playoffs along with the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers.