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Joe Horn doesn't sound like he'll be a Falcon much longer

POSTED: August 1, 2008 5:01 a.m.
/The Times

Atlanta Falcons receiver Joe Horn runs after making a catch during a minicamp practice in Flowery Branch. Horn, coming off a season in which he had only 27 catches and one touchdown, is working in training camp behind a bunch of younger receivers, including starters Roddy White and Laurent Robinson, former starter Michael Jenkins and third-round draft pick Harry Douglas.

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Joe Horn can look at the depth chart and know he doesn't have much of a future with the Atlanta Falcons.

The 36-year-old Horn, coming off a season in which he had only 27 catches and one touchdown, is working in training camp behind a bunch of younger receivers, including starters Roddy White and Laurent Robinson, former starter Michael Jenkins and third-round draft pick Harry Douglas.

Horn has no chance to beat out White and Robinson, and he's clearly below Jenkins and Douglas in the pecking order. Even Brian Finneran, returning after missing two full seasons with knee injuries, might have a better chance than Horn or being on the regular-season roster.

"I understand the process," Horn said. "There comes a time in everyone's career when the young guys have to step up."

Not that he's ready to call it a career. Horn believes he can still be a productive player in the NFL — even a starter — though his numbers tell a different story.

After matching his career high with 94 catches for the Saints in 2004, Horn closed his career in New Orleans with two injury plagued seasons. He started 12 games for Atlanta last year but wasn't much of a factor, putting up his fewest receptions since 1998.

"I knew I can still start in this league and be productive," Horn said. "Unfortunately, they're going with the younger guys."

Asked if he expects to be with the Falcons for their Sept. 7 opener against Detroit, Horn smiled and said simply, "I don't know." But the notoriously outspoken Horn vowed not to be a distraction during training camp.

"Within me, there's frustration," he said. "But I can't take it out on the field. That's not fair to the younger guys."

While Horn's future is uncertain, the Falcons do know they'll be one man short in the secondary. Cornerback Von Hutchins, projected as the nickel back, is out for the year after injuring his foot on the first day of training camp.

The Falcons had hoped it was only a sprain, but surgery was deemed necessary after Hutchins saw a specialist in Charlotte, N.C.

Hutchins started 15 games for the Houston Texans last season.

In another impending move, the agent for Grady Jackson said the massive defensive tackle has agreed to a one-year contract to return to the Falcons.

"It's contingent on him passing the physical and everything," Angelo Wright told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He wanted to be in Atlanta."

Jackson, listed at 365 pounds, was shockingly released by the Falcons seven games into last season even though he was one of the team's most productive linemen, apparently because then-coach Bobby Petrino didn't like his work habits. The player quickly landed in Jacksonville and played for defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who is now the Falcons' head coach.



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