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Hall blasts team over release of Grady Jackson

POSTED: October 28, 2007 5:07 a.m.
FLOWERY BRANCH — DeAngelo Hall plans to give it his all the rest of the season. He wonders if the Atlanta Falcons are making the same commitment.

The Pro Bowl cornerback went off on his team Wednesday — specifically coach Bobby Petrino and the front office — after the Falcons (1-6) released defensive tackle Grady Jackson during the bye week.

"I don’t know what kind of message is being sent to let Grady go," Hall said. "I’m trying to go (all) out on every single snap. But a lot of guys feel like everyone from the top down is kind of turning it in."

Hall already was fined $100,000 and had to sit out the first half of a game for getting into a sideline confrontation with the rookie coach during Week 3. Even so, the cornerback didn’t mince words when asked for his reaction to Jackson being cut Tuesday.

Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 350-pound run-stopper, topped the league with 13 tackles for losses last season.

This year, the 11-year veteran was the leader among Falcons defensive linemen with 21 tackles, including 5 « for losses and one sack.

Petrino brushed aside any speculation that the Falcons were going with youth and giving up on this season by releasing the 35-year-old Jackson. Rookie Trey Lewis, a sixth-round pick, takes over as the starter.

"It had nothing to do with anything but football," the coach said. "It was just the way we wanted to go. We felt like for our best opportunity to win games, the next nine games that we play, this was the right move to make, and that’s really all there is to it."

Hall wasn’t buying that logic.

"If that’s the case ... they can probably cut me too," Hall said. "They need to cut all 53 of us. Nobody is playing the way they should be playing right now, obviously. I mean, we’re 1-6. To sit there and single out Grady is just asinine. It’s ridiculous."

Hall wasn’t the only one caught off guard by the move. Running back Warrick Dunn was more diplomatic but just as stunned.

"It’s a shock," Dunn said. "We’re all asking the question ‘Why?’ Did he do something wrong? I don’t know."

Petrino has come under increasing criticism in the locker room with each loss. A couple of weeks ago, Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler, one of the team’s most respected leaders, blasted the coach’s play-calling and said it appeared the team was focusing on younger players at the expense of veterans.

On Wednesday, Hall said Crumpler was speaking on behalf of all veterans when he pointed out that Petrino kept plenty of untested rookies and younger players on the roster.

"We’ve got so many players that ain’t made a play around here," Hall said. "It don’t make no sense. We gave a lot of people jobs. Now, to sit around here and single Grady out and say he’s the reason why (the team is losing) ... that’s just ludicrous. If they’ve got something better and more concrete to go off of, I’d love to hear it. But I’m not buying that one."

Hall took a more subtle shot at Petrino, who left Louisville after last season for a five-year, $24 million contract with the Falcons. The cornerback has one more year left on his big-money deal.

"I didn’t just sign a lucrative deal where I can sit around and watch this ship sink," Hall said. "I can’t do that. I’ve got one more year on my deal. I feel as though I can go out and get a ton of money, whether it’s here of somewhere else. I’ve got a lot of stuff to play for."

But he wondered how much effort some of his teammates would give if they felt the Falcons were looking ahead to next season.

"It’s kind of hard for the other guys to play 100 percent ... knowing that everyone is not on board from the front office on down," Hall said.

According to Petrino, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer talked with some of the veterans Tuesday night "to let them know the reasons why." Apparently, Hall wasn’t on the phone list.

"Coach didn’t address anything with us," Hall said. "We’re going to have to wait and read what y’all (in the media) put out. We had a team meeting today. I kind of thought the meeting was to talk about that, but they didn’t say one word about it. We had a defensive meeting, and they didn’t say one word about it. We had a practice, broke down practice, and didn’t speak one word about it."

Dunn said he didn’t find out that Jackson had been cut until he showed up Wednesday for practice and meetings.

"Losing a guy who had that much experience, who made plays, to me that’s the toughest part," the running back said.

Asked if he thought the Falcons were going with youth and giving up on this season, Dunn chose his words carefully.

"On the outside looking in, you would have to say ‘Yes,"’ he said. "You get rid of a guy who’s played well for you, who’s been here for a while, and now you’re going with a rookie."

His voice trailed off.

"I just don’t know," Dunn said.



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