FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Hello, Falcons fans! Welcome to the first edition of our new Early Bird Report. This daily roundup is meant to keep you up-to-date on every bit of Atlanta Falcons news from across the country. It'll run every morning, Monday through Friday.
We're less than a week away from the start of the regular season, and the Falcons are getting ready to travel to Chicago for a 1 p.m. ET matchup with Bears on Sunday.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
MMQB: Ryan discusses 'the competitor's mindset'
There's a certain internal drive that separates the good from the great. In a recent feature piece on Falcons quarterback , Sports Illustrated's Peter King highlighted the reigning MVP's mindset in handling the Super Bowl loss.
This is a topic that has been covered extensively, but Ryan was very candid about his approach and the way he and the team processed defeat. Every great athlete has experienced defeat, and Ryan explained that feeling in the excerpt below:
"When you hear Michael Jordan talk about a big loss, or J.J. Watt, Peyton or Eli Manning, Serena Williams — it's one of those things, it's always there a little bit," Ryan said. "It's always the thing that burns or makes you want to get up and do the work that you have to do in order to be successful. It's not all-consuming. I think that is probably the best way to describe it. … I feel good now. It's in there somewhere and you use it as motivation to get up out of bed to go to work."
AP: Falcons looking to erase sting of Super Bowl in 2017
Charles Odum of The Associated Press also wrote about the Falcons moving forward from their Super Bowl loss. Teams around the league, especially within the division, are quick to point out Atlanta's 28-3 lead, Odum mentions, but within the team's facilities at Flowery Branch, the Falcons have turned the page and left 2016 in the past.
AJC: Added line depth means Hageman was no longer worth the trouble
The Falcons announced the release of defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman on Monday morning, two days after it was learned he would be placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List.
Hageman was one of several players along the defensive line who were having a good training camp, but Atlanta added some nice depth to that unit in the offseason. Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes that depth meant Hageman was no longer worth the trouble.
Schultz says the praise the Falcons receive for cutting ties with Hageman as an investigation into domestic violence allegations continues should be tampered by the knowledge that they kept him around last season, when he provided depth along the line. With the addition of Jack Crawford and Dontari Poe, Schultz notes that the need for Hageman lessened.
Yahoo Sports: Mercedes-Benz Stadium breaks the grading scale
Atlanta's new state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium has wowed nearly every person who has walked inside. It's truly a point of pride for the city, and will hopefully be witness to some great moments on the football field in the near future.
Yahoo Sports' Jay Busbee is among those who are in awe of the Falcons' new home, and he recently explained how the stadium is a visual masterpiece and has something for everyone. On a scale of 1-10, Busbee believes Mercedes-Benz Stadium is way off the charts.
One of the most interactive and fan-friendly experiences in the NFL, Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers an unmatched game-day experience.
The Falcoholic: Only one team had more players claimed by other clubs than Falcons
It can be a great sign of a team's overall depth and talent when players who were released after the preseason are picked up by other NFL clubs. Dave Choate of the Falcoholic noted that the Falcons had the second-most players picked up by other teams after roster cuts.
Defensive lineman Chris Odom was picked up by the Green Bay Packers; wide receiver Reggie Davis was claimed by the Cleveland Browns and cornerback Akeem King was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. The only team with more players claimed off of waivers by other teams was the New England Patriots.
Sports Illustrated: Falcons thinking offense in new mock draft
It's entirely too early to start thinking about next year's NFL Draft, what with the season still a week away and everything, but that didn't stop Sports Illustrated from releasing their first mock draft of the college football season.
Mocking the entire first round, SI has the Falcons picking 28th in the draft – the spots are based on each team's respective Super Bowl odds – and selecting Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington. They believe this would be a "best player available" type of pick, rather than one based on need, saying:
"The Falcons are not necessarily lined up to need a receiver ahead of next year, but a player of Washington's caliber could be too much to turn down."
NFL.com: Are hiccups ahead for the Falcons' offense?
In their second season under former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons scored nearly 34 points per game and possessed one of the most versatile and efficient offenses in recent years. Now, Steve Sarkisian is overseeing Atlanta's offense, and Kevin Patra of NFL.com is wondering if the Falcons will struggle with that transition.
With nearly every player back from last year's offense, Sarkisian is really the notable change. Patra notes Shanahan's ability to make in-game adjustments and execute his play-calling strategies as something the Falcons could be missing in 2017.
NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: CHICAGO BEARS
Here are some of the most important bits of news about the Falcons' upcoming Week 1 opponent.
Chicago Tribune: Analyzing the Bears' 53-man roster
Like every other NFL team, the Bears finalized their active roster on Saturday. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune provided a position-by-position breakdown of the team's roster after it was finalized.
Possibly the most interesting information in Campbell's piece was the notion that Mark Sanchez's spot on the active roster means rookie Mitch Trubisky could be inactive against the Falcons:
"For now, at least, the Bears opted to keep the veteran Sanchez, who they have praised consistently for helping Trubisky's transition to the NFL on and off the field. Sanchez very well could be the active backup next Sunday against the Falcons, leaving Trubisky inactive."
ESPN: Linebacker Pernell McPhee off the PUP list
Veteran linebacker Pernell McPhee was moved off the physically unable to perform list ahead of the season opener. In his review of the Bears' active roster, ESPN's Jeff Dickerson explained what the move means for Chicago and McPhee.
Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago's roster may look strange, but there's a reason for that
Coming off of a disappointing season, the Bears have made moves to become more competitive in 2017. Rebuilding often takes more than an offseason or two, however, and Chicago's active roster might be proof of that, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Patrick Finley.
He notes that the way the Bears' roster is currently constructed "makes little sense" but adds that it looks that way because it is still "mid-construction." Chicago still has needs at several critical positions, and Finley helps explain the team's present situation.
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
ESPN: Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes Cam Newton is 'ready'
Two years removed from an MVP season, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is looking to bounce back from last year's disappointing performance. This offseason, he's been rehabbing from shoulder surgery, and Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he thinks Newton will be ready for the team's season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, according to ESPN's David Newton.
"I think he's ready,'' Rivera said, according to Newton. "You wish he'd had a few more snaps and played a little bit earlier in the preseason so we'd have more to go on. But what we saw, we liked."
ESPN: Adrian Peterson wants to 'stick it' to every team
The NFC South added arguably the league's top running back from the last decade this offseason, when the New Orleans Saints signed 32-year-old Adrian Peterson. At the time, the pairing between the talented workhorse and the Saints' dynamic passing attack seemed odd, but it appears Peterson is on a revenge tour this season.
Out to prove those who doubted his ability to continue to perform at a high level wrong, Peterson will begin his quest against his former team. The Saints begin their season on Monday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson, a Vikings legend, said he wants to "stick it to them," and every team on the schedule, according to ESPN's Mike Triplett.
Tampa Bay Times: Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign three-time Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward
The Buccaneers added to their secondary over the weekend, signing former Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward. A Pro Bowler from 2013-15, Ward recorded 87 tackles in 14 starts for the Broncos last season.
According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the move signals that the Buccaneers are "going for it."
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