A lot has been made of Atlanta's two rookie cornerbacks through the first 12 days of Falcons training camp.
That's a pretty quick time to draw conclusions about anyone. In fact, I'm not even sure the coaching staff could draw conclusions about Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford that quickly, even if they so wanted. And I'm not even really counting mini-camp, because how much does that really show besides who's conditioned and who dodged the weight room? That was clearly not the case for either.
So Trufant and Alford have spent about two weeks training with the Falcons and preparing for the season, but Monday afternoon bore my first glimpses at both. While early reports had them struggling, they looked pretty solid yesterday when they were on the field closest to fans and spectators. Both showed some nice breaks on short routes, getting their hands on the ball in one way or another, staying tight on their man, etc.
And though Alford was credited with an interception of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton during the practice scrimmage, it was Trufant that stood out most to the ole' "Red Rocket" out of TCU, per John Manasso:
"I really noticed (No.) 21 out there, what was it Trufant?" Dalton said. "You can tell he's really confident in his abilities. I just remember watching a little bit of him -- whether it would be the Senior Bowl or whatever it was going through the draft process -- I liked him. I thought he was a good player. And you can see that here. He's confident in everything he can do."
Some nice praise from Dalton, who is a solid quarterback in his own right. And I'd have to agree with the man: he looked pretty fluid out there - not exceptional, but he looked like he could hold his own against an NFL receiver. He's a little handsy, which was something that showed on his college tape, but he's also physical and won't shy away from contact a la Dunta Robinson.
He's also more likely to deflect passes instead of going for the pick, another trait he shares with Robinson. But that's no cause for concern: Asante Samuel and Thomas DeCoud are fine ball-hawks, and you can't have everyone trying to jump routes. It's not conducive to good defense. Bottom line: Trufant is still on track to start week one, and I still expect him to handle his upcoming baptism-by-fire with grace.
That Line Is Offensive
With the defense (perhaps intentionally) not so easily viewed by the public's eye, the Falcons' first and second-team offenses took center stage at Flowery Branch among the fans.
Those running at the skill positions were no surprise, outside of Drew Davis who was filling in for a limited (not "injured") Julio Jones. The first-team offensive line, however, was interesting in that Mike Johnson took all of the reps at right tackle. Lamar Holmes looked solid, as well, but I think for now this is Johnson's gig to lose.
But the two standouts from that group, in my humble opinion, were Peter Konz and Garrett Reynolds, who both held their own against a very stout Bengals defensive line that features Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Domata Peko. Also, Reynolds is a mountain of a man up close. Really, he is fearsome.
As for Konz, he seems to be continuing what has been a solid camp for him, and it looks like he's built off his half-season's worth of starting experience in 2012 quite nicely. If Johnson can keep it together at right tackle, I'm feeling confident about this Falcons offensive line.
For those that are unaware, the Falcons sell food and drink at training camp. This mostly consists of the standard hamburger and hot dog type of sustenance.
However, there is one particular food item that I made it a point to purchase: the "Gamechanger" training camp sandwich. Priced at $5, this bad boy has BBQ, mac n' cheese, cole slaw, onion rings and bacon somehow piled onto one bun. The fork is an absolute necessity.
Clearly not your average sandwich. It was pretty dang good, too. The walk back to my car was perhaps a little less enjoyable as a result of the Gamechanger, but it was definitely a highlight of my training camp pit-stop.
Keep checking The Falcoholic today for a full camp update from our own Jeanna Thomas!