Falcons sign wide receiver Brian Robiskie
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP)
In practice Thursday, Atlanta Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie was barking at the new guy like he knows him.
He does. One day after losing the NFL's leading receiver, Julio Jones, to a season-ending foot fracture, Atlanta signed Brian Robiskie - the coach's son.
The scuffling Falcons (1-4) hope that the younger Robiskie - who practiced in 2011 under Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter when he held that job in Jacksonville - can shore up the beleagured receiving corps.
Four-time Pro Bowl wideout Roddy White has just 14 receptions, struggling since the preseason with a high ankle sprain. He left Monday night's loss to the Jets with a hamstring injury and is no lock for Atlanta's next game, Oct. 20 against the Bucs.
Although the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Robiskie has bounced around in the NFL since the Cleveland Browns drafted him in the second round in 2009, Atlanta head coach Mike Smith and the staff hope his familiarity with coaches helps him get up to speed quickly.
''Brian has . . . three or four years of experience, knows our offense, knows our verbiage,'' Smith said. ''I know that father and son always speak. I'm sure they kind of speak the same language.''
Terry Robiskie has work to do, and as the Falcons held a rare Thursday bye-week practice, he was going at it. He wasn't always pleasant when addressing his son.
''That's nothing,'' said Brian Robiskie, who had been out of football since the Detroit Lions released him in June. ''He's a tough guy. That's how he is, and I'm sure if you ask any of the other receivers they would tell you the same thing. He wants a lot out of his players.''
The younger Robiskie was the only new player Thursday, but there will be many moving parts for the Falcons.
With Jones and his 41 receptions gone and White out of practice all week, Atlanta slot receiver Harry Douglas will move into the starting lineup. Whether he returns to the slot in three-receiver formations remains to be seen.
''This is a unique situation that we're dealing with right now, and you've got to be multiple,'' Smith said. ''We've got to identify what guys can do, and put them in the best spots by formation and by personnel.''
The Falcons may also use rookie tight end Levine Toilolo more in conjunction with Tony Gonzalez for two-tight end formations.
''He's going to be a very big threat, especially in the red zone,'' Smith said of the 6-8 Toilolo. ''Yes, that would be an option.''
At wide receiver, NFL neophytes Drew Davis and/or Kevin Cone may see their roles increase, and that could make two of the Falcons' most dependable special teamers available for less duty on punt and kickoff squads.
Cone, an undrafted third-year pro, got his first NFL reception Monday after Jones left. Davis, undrafted last year, made all four of his NFL catches as a rookie in 2012.
''That's something that's overlooked,'' Smith said. ''Drew Davis has been good on special teams for us, and Kevin Cone. (The injury situation) is going to not only affect what we do on offense, it's going to affect what we do on special teams.''
Special teams could be further impacted if coaches opt not to use Douglas in his usual punt returner spot to save wear-and-tear.
Reserve cornerback Robert McClain would be a top candidate for that spot. Smith said, ''That's definitely on the table for discussion.''
Brian Robiskie doesn't have to make all these decisions, yet he will be busy over the next 10 days trying to get ready to help against Tampa Bay. .
He was released by the Browns during the 2011 season after making 39 catches for 441 yards and three touchdowns in 31 games, including 14 starts.
The former Ohio State standout was quickly claimed off waivers by the Jaguars, but did not play for Jacksonville in 2011 when he was injured. The Jags released him before the 2012 season, and after the Lions signed him at midseason, Robiskie caught four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown while playing in six games for Detroit.
Robiskie said after Thursday's practice he'll wait to answer whether working with his dad will expedite his learning curve.
''If you ask me in a couple more days, I'll let you know,'' he said. ''The first day went well. It's going take me however long to get back into the swing of things, but after being out (of the game) it's exciting for me.''
Notes: Running back Stephen Jackson, who has missed the last three-plus games with a hamstring injury, did not practice Thursday. He continued working with athletic trainers. ''We need to get Stephen back as quickly as we can,'' Smith said. . . . The Falcons will not practice Friday-Monday.
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