The Falcons were back at it this morning after the bye week, taking the practice field to prepare to face the Colts at home this Sunday. The good news is that, following a week to get healthy, the team was very nearly at full strength today. Justin Durant, William Moore and Leonard Hankerson were all practicing, though Dan Quinn confirmed after practice that Hankerson was limited. Both Robert Alford (groin) and Robensen Therezie (hamstring) remained out, working instead with athletic performance staff on a far field.
Perhaps the biggest news from today's practice was the return of Devin Hester. Hester, who was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return, is eligible to play again in week 13 of the NFL season. Returning to practice today is a good sign that his recovery is on track to return at that time.
After practice, Dan Quinn told the media that the coaching staff had identified some key areas in which the team needed to improve and that it was good to get back on the practice field with the team to start to make those corrections.
"Good to get back out on the field today," Quinn said. "Really, the emphasis today came back to us. During the bye week, we looked at a number of things, areas that we wanted to improve on for sure, and so for us, the meetings today and then being able to get out today and work on some of those was a really important time, and honestly, just having that little focus on a couple of specific areas — I won't go into all of them...in terms of our game plan, but there are a number of areas that we're trying to improve on, and so it's great to be out and working with the guys today."
Quinn identified the key areas in which the Falcons need to improve as the turnover ratio, third downs on both sides of the ball, and also red zone play on both sides of the ball.
Devin Hester said after practice that it felt good to get back on the field with his teammates.
"It was kind of a little frustrating [to be sidelined]," Hester said. "I felt I could have helped out with some of the situations we were put in, and I'm just glad to be back — two more weeks left."
William Moore was also happy to be back at practice.
"I feel awesome," Moore said. "I love the game, and it sucks being on the sideline, but it's part of the game where things like that happen, but I always keep myself in the game [mentally] whenever I'm on the sideline."
Roddy White said he does feel like he's an important part of this team regardless of targets and touches.
"I always feel like I'm an important part of this team, as being a leader on this team," White said. "I've been in this organization for — this is my 11th year, so it's just certain parts of the season, you need guys to lean on, and this is one of the times I've got to go out there and just be a leader for this team and this organization and settle everything down."
White also said that it's time for the whole team to get focused and play some quality football.
"We had a couple of rough weeks leading up to the bye, so it's time to turn around, get focused, get all the details in, start playing good football," White said. "We've got to get back to doing that offensively, defensively, and special teams."
Your thoughts on the team's first day back after the bye?