Today's practice had a very different feel from yesterday's. Fewer fans are free to attend on Mondays, and attendance was light. Players were in shorts and helmets as they worked to refine elements from the last scheme install.
Devin Hester did not practice with the toe injury that kept him out yesterday, also. Dan Quinn said yesterday that he believes Hester will be back very soon. Cliff Matthews is still out with an ankle injury, and Brooks Reed continues to be sidelined with the groin/hip strain that has plagued him pretty consistently. Both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were held out of practice with their respective hamstring injuries, but both guys were running and making cuts as they worked with the athletic performance staff, so that's probably a good sign in terms of how their rehab is progressing.
For the first time since camp began, there was some consistency with the starting five offensive linemen between yesterday's practice and today's. The team had Jake Matthews at left tackle, James Stone at left guard, Joe Hawley at center, Chris Chester at right guard, and Ryan Schraeder at right tackle. According to Quinn, Schraeder and Matthews are set at the tackle position, and it seems reasonable to expect the team to roll with Chester and Stone at the guard positions heading into preseason action on Friday. Quinn made it sound like the team isn't entirely settled on Joe Hawley at center, suggesting that a battle continues between Mike Person and Hawley.
The run blocking in particular with that first team offensive line unit looked cohesive.
Both Terron Ward and Antone Smith got plenty of first team reps with Coleman and Freeman out. Smith had a fumble today, but otherwise played well. Ward has a really complete skill set and continues to make a strong case for final roster consideration.
Carlton Mitchell, an undrafted free agent out of South Florida, started out having a rough day with a few drops, but when the team moved into one-on-ones, he pulled it together and was very consistent.
Dan Quinn talks a lot about coveting length in players, and in Leonard Hankerson's case, his catch radius demonstrates why Quinn's so focused on that physical trait.
In one-on-ones, Dezmen Southward is still lagging a bit and allowing receivers to get separation. He looks much more comfortable in special teams work.
Phillip Adams was taking first team snaps in the nickel, and he spent some time at left cornerback with the second team defense. Adams has been consistent throughout OTAs and training camp, and he has a legitimate shot to earn a lot of playing time at nickelback.
Nathan Stupar dropped an interception, but I liked the way he read the play and reacted to the ball.
@jeannathomas Do you think Konz will even make the final cut?— Bobby Dowell (@bdowell7) August 10, 2015
Hard to say. I think Peter Konz's experience at guard is an asset, but Person also has that versatility and the team seems to see him as a better fit based on reps.
@jeannathomas how has TJax looked out there?— Ian McCluskey (@DirtyBirds84) August 10, 2015
Slimmer, faster. I was impressed with Jackson's agility for his size last year. Best case scenario would be Jackson living up to his contract this season.
@jeannathomas How has Konz looked? Does Asamoah look slower than Stone or otherwise less qualified in ZBS?— Michael Bischoff (@mbischoff63) August 10, 2015
Truthfully, I think the time Asamoah missed with the ankle injury and then the stomach virus hindered him, and Stone has looked good, particularly his footwork. Stone's really intelligent and has done a great job of picking up the scheme.
@jeannathomas has he played any LG in camp or is he just fighting for the RG spot?— Derrick Ligon (@DerrickLigon) August 10, 2015
I don't recall seeing Asamoah at left guard at all, but don't quote me on that. With 90 guys on the field, it's possible I missed it.
@jeannathomas are you genuinely optimistic without bias about our pass rush this year— Trouble Maker (@VTwelve_) August 10, 2015
I am actually optimistic about the pass rush. I think the new scheme puts guys in the position to make plays, and I'm really impressed with the pressure the team is bringing up the middle and what Vic Beasley can do coming off the edge.
@jeannathomas how does soliai look? See hes starting but haven't heard much— Ryan Howes (@howes_ryan) August 10, 2015
Soliai looks fine. There's no question he'll be the starter as long as he stays healthy.
@jeannathomas Andrew wouldn't give Vic Beasley a hug for me yesterday, will you?— Gnick (@Gnick_ATL) August 10, 2015
I would, but I'm too sweaty and gross to hug people. I don't want Beasley to hate me.
@jeannathomas phillip Adams what is the word— Noble (@blknoble357) August 10, 2015
I think we'll see him a lot this season in the nickel role.
@jeannathomas do u think Asamoah will get his starting position back and do u think Stone stays as starting LG?— Ian McCluskey (@DirtyBirds84) August 10, 2015
I projected the starting offensive line as Matthews, Chester, Hawley, Asamoah and Schraeder, and I still think that could be the makeup by the time the season starts.
@jeannathomas will Tevin Coleman play Friday?— Davíd Smith (@Falconz_101) August 10, 2015
I sincerely doubt it. I think the team already has Freeman and Coleman penciled in for the final roster, and I don't anticipate the coaching staff being willing to rush those guys back.
@jeannathomas How did the lines look today? they have me worried. either or defense got that good or its going to be a long year— Steve Bain (@stevebain69) August 10, 2015
It's really hard to assess the lines without pads on, but I did feel like the offensive line looked a little more cohesive, particularly in run blocking situations, than they have the past few days. The defensive line is still coming off the snap really fast, which is fun to see.
@jeannathomas Is stone significantly better than last year? Can we expect Adams to be the slot CB on Friday ?— Thaddeus (@Falcons4L) August 10, 2015
I mean, you're gauging play at two totally different positions. I think Stone looks pretty good at guard. We'll have a better idea of how prepared he is on Friday. As far as Adams, yes, I defiitely expect him to take first team snaps at nickel on Friday.
@jeannathomas Do you need some rest?— Matt (@FalconsM5) August 10, 2015
I really do.
@jeannathomas how many more sacks do you think the team will generate this year— Trouble Maker (@VTwelve_) August 10, 2015
If they could get to around 40 sacks, I think I'd be pretty happy with that level of improvement. That would have been around the middle of the league last season and would nearly double the number of sacks the Falcons had last year.
@jeannathomas is Collins still in running for 3rd CB, or has Adams pretty much locked that up?— TM (@ThomasGM) August 10, 2015
Nothing is set in stone at this point. Collins could come out and blow everyone away in the preseason and change the entire approach. I've been really impressed with Adams and believe he's currently the frontrunner for snaps at nickel, but keep an eye on these guys throughout the preseason.
@jeannathomas will Charles Godfrey have a role or does he figure to be strictly an insurance policy at this point?— Not Great, Bob! (@chapmans_friend) August 10, 2015
I think he's been outplayed by Ricardo Allen thus far. He'll likely stick as necessary depth.
@jeannathomas My Twitter line is in flames what should I do?— Isiah (@Isiah_Ryan) August 10, 2015
Stop, drop and roll, bro.
@jeannathomas high hopes for Beasley, but have any specific pass rush packages/combinations been impressive from a whole line standpoint?— Derrick Ligon (@DerrickLigon) August 10, 2015
They're doing a lot with the front seven in practice. Beasley looks good coming off the snap from either side. I expect them to move him around for matchup purposes, and I think that will be a pretty successful approach. Clayborn has also impressed from defensive end and from the interior line.
@jeannathomas when is YOUR contract getting extended? I need to know so I can plan accordingly to get your jersey.— Jose Miranda (@JoseGatsby) August 10, 2015
That's really between Dave and my agent. Honestly, I can't worry about that. I'm just here to report and help the team at The Falcoholic win.
@jeannathomas haven't heard much about Justin Durant. has he been out there? how's he looked?— Daenerys of Decatur (@chasdizz) August 10, 2015
Durant looks to be penciled in for a starting role. He looks solid, and the coaching staff loves both his ability and leadership.
Both Ward and Smith have been getting plenty of first team reps. I'd say Ward is the starter Friday, but expect Smith to get plenty of work. The coaching staff has been impressed by his play these past few days.