Atlanta Falcons tight end Martrez Milner is optimistic about this franchise’s future after a rocky offseason. He’s eager to get into the team setting so he can met a largely new coaching staff after former head coach Bobby Petrino’s abrupt departure to the University of Arkansas.
This West Hall High graduate is also eager to test his ankle after tearing a ligament last season. It sidelined Milner after having nine catches for 50 yards through 10 games of the regular season.
Milner spoke with sports writer Bill Murphy while in Gainesville last Wednesday while working with kids at Fair Street elementary. He talked about his offseason surgery, the new coaching staff and expectations for next season.
Question: How is your ankle recovery coming along?Answer: I think it’s coming along really well.
I tore the ligament that connects the fibula and the tibia. I had surgery and two screws put in my foot.
I’m going to get those screws taken out in another couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to get back on the field and starting working again.
Q: Were you surprised when Mike Smith was named your new coach? What do you know about him?
A: I know a couple guys that played at Georgia that now play in Jacksonville (where Smith was defensive coordinator), and they like him a lot. They said he’s a good guy to play for and that he’s a players coach. I met him in the weight room briefly and really like him a lot. I’m looking forward to what he is going to be able to do.
Q: Do you feel like Mike Mularkey was a good addition as offensive coordinator?
A: I do. I feel like he has a good concept for coordinating an offense. I’m sure next season is going to be a transition for our team after having a rough season. I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a new play book, and there’s pros and cons to learning a new system. But I’m excited about next year.
Q: Do you have an opinion who should be the starting quarterback next season? Is there a little loyalty between you and (former Bulldogs teammate D.J. Shockley)?
A: Well we have four good quarterbacks (Byron Leftwich, Chris Redman, Joey Harrington and Shockley) and they all deserve a chance to show what they can do. Now of course having played with Shockley, I’m used to catching passes from him and what his throws are like. But we’ll have to see how it all works out.
Q: What was your opinion on the way that coach Petrino left the Falcons?A: I really have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I know he gave me a job with the Falcons. But the way he went was kind of cowardly. He could have been more professional about it, because it really left Arthur Blank in a bad situation.
But I wish coach Petrino the best.