Please us this as your open thread for today's festivities. Lots of updates coming your way as we get them, and we'll put the good stuff in the Twitter feed below.
We've reached that point in the offseason where football feels like it's just around the corner even though it's really still too far away--veteran minicamp. The Falcons will have two practices this week that are open to the public, and I'll be at both of them to report on what's happening with the team. This is our first look at position battles, how the offseason acquisitions are fitting in, and much more, so it's very exciting. Of course, there's only so much we can learn about the team at this point of the offseason in a strictly-regulated no contact environment. Still, this is the closest thing we'll have to football until training camp, so let's make the most of it.
I asked Falcons fans on Twitter what they were hoping to learn from minicamp and got several interesting responses. Most people mentioned the linebackers as a point of focus. With Sean Weatherspoon's season-ending injury and so many new guys on the roster, the linebacker position--both inside and outside--is definitely one we'll be keeping a close eye on at this point and throughout the preseason. There's one potential linebacker in particular I'll be keeping an eye on throughout minicamp.
Other fans were interested in the tight ends, receivers, running backs and the backup quarterback position. I'm particularly interested in who's getting first and second team reps at running back. I'm curious how Devonta Freeman is fitting into the offense and what role he'll play in the coming season.
I'm also particularly interested in Dwight Lowery and Dezmen Southward. I suspect Lowery is penciled in as the starter for the coming season, so I'm interested to see his chemistry with the defense and how he looks on the field. I'm also interested in Southward's development. Often rookies are struggling this time of year to adapt to the speed of the game, so if those are the reports you hear about Southward and others out of minicamp, don't panic.
This fan posed the most hard-hitting questions.
I can answer some of these questions before open practices even begin. The field looks great, first of all.
Mike Smith will be wearing a safari hat, the cloud formations will be slightly gray and ominous (scattered thunderstorms in the forecast, like most Georgia afternoons) and there will be Crocs. There will undoubtedly be Crocs.
What are you hoping to learn from minicamp? What should I be keeping an eye on in open practices?