The Falcons were back in pads today, and this practice marked the third days of a consistent lineup along the offensive line. The first team offense as a whole was really clicking today.
Brooks Reed (hip/groin), Cliff Matthews (ankle), Devonta Freeman (hamstring) and Tevin Coleman (hamstring) were all held out of today's practice. All four players were getting a lot of work in with the athletic performance staff on one of the adjacent practice fields, including some running and ladder drills, and they all look like they're making progress toward getting back on the field.
Heading into Friday's preseason game, the starting offensive line appears to be Jake Matthews, James Stone, Joe Hawley, Chris Chester, and Ryan Schraeder. The unit as a whole looked a little more cohesive today, particularly run blocking.
If you're worried about Matt Ryan adapting to this offensive scheme, don't. Ryan's timing is impeccable on roll outs and he was putting the ball just where it needed to be when throwing on the run today.
Antone Smith is holding up well with more of a workload. He took a lot of first team reps today. The improved run blocking from the first team offensive line helped.
Collin Mooney seems to be emerging as a front runner for the fullback position. Running backs coach Bobby Turner praised Mooney's ability to finish yesterday, and Mooney took the bulk of first team reps today.
Jacob Tamme has been very consistent throughout OTAs and training camp, but Robenson Therezie, an undrafted free agent safety out of Auburn, defended Tamme effectively in one-on-one drills. Therezie stayed right at Tamme's shoulder and broke up the pass before Tamme could haul it in for the catch.
Ra'Shede Hageman is getting consistent pressure up the middle. He doesn't seem to have sacrificed any strength with his leaner frame, and he's quick and explosive off the snap.
Jalen Collins is still a step slow, but there is incremental improvement each day. Collins put in some extra work after practice to get up to speed.
@jeannathomas who is a better Dj? DJ Jazzy Jeff Or Dan Quinn— brian phillips (@briangrunt311) August 11, 2015
Dan Quinn. It's not close.
@jeannathomas Any thoughts on Southward? Haven't heard much & DB position is stacked.— #Quinning (@wdcc4falcons) August 11, 2015
Dezmen Southward looks pretty comfortable in special teams drills. He's allowing quite a bit of separation in one-on-ones and 11 on 11s. Definitely keep an eye on his performance in preseason games. He'll need to prove he's prepared.
@jeannathomas who's the most interesting interview— BT (@Barnwould) August 11, 2015
This is a great question, and it's difficult to answer, because there are a lot of guys I love talking to whenever we get the opportunity. Roddy White is a lot of fun. Joe Hawley is hilarious. I always love talking to William Moore. O'Brien Schofield is really interesting and has great perspectives on Dan Quinn's approach to the game. Vic Beasley was nervous around the media at first, but he's gotten more confident in those situations since being drafted, so that's fun to see.
@jeannathomas Marquis Spruill... He Got Hurt Early Last Season.. Is He Projected Inside Or Outside In Quinn's D. And Does He Look Healthy?— Filipe Hobos (@ProperlySeared) August 11, 2015
Marquis Spruill does look healthy, and I think he's performing well so far in camp. I've seen him inside. I don't think I've been him outside at all, but I could have missed it.
@jeannathomas best guess as starter in slot week 1, Hardy or Hank?— Slayde Mizell (@Slayde_31) August 11, 2015
I expect both of these guys to get plenty of work. Justin Hardy's been praised by Coach Robiskie and his teammates for working to learn all of the wide receiver roles in the scheme, and Hankerson's very familiar with the scheme, also. I wouldn't pigeonhole either of these guys as "the slot receiver." I think they'll be used in versatile ways.
@jeannathomas see J.Collins mentioned struggling, is this talent or behind due to missing OTA's? Seems concerning being 2nd round pick— Steve Cornwell (@number1gator) August 11, 2015
Collins has the talent and he's working hard to overcome his struggles. I think his issues are primarily related to missing some of OTAs with a foot injury, though Collins was always kind of a raw prospect and the need for development isn't a surprise.
@jeannathomas How's the run game looking? Is Ward a lock to make the roster?— Richard (@DLAGPrez) August 11, 2015
Terron Ward is going to force the coaching staff think long and hard about what to do with the final depth chart at the running back position. Both Ward and Antone Smith look very good. Freeman and Coleman looked great prior to their respective injuries, also. I think if the team chooses to carry four running backs, they will keep Ward. I'm just not sure how they justify carrying four if they carry a fullback, also.
@jeannathomas who is the real man of the people ? IE: who cuts their own lawn .— Truman Cobbeldick (@Mrtjc4Truman) August 11, 2015
I'm not sure who cuts their own lawn, but Matt Bryant seems like a real man of the people. He has plenty of grit.
@jeannathomas has the O-line benefited from consistency in personnel from yesterday to today?— Dee_Cee (@DavidCarley) August 11, 2015
It really looked to me like they were more cohesive today. Let's hope that trend continues.
@jeannathomas do chester and stone look better than asamoah in your opinion? Or are they just seeing what they can do— j_playz (@j_playz) August 11, 2015
I don't really judge the offensive line on individual performances. They have to be able to function as a unit, and the first team unit of these past few days looks more cohesive than any other combination they've thrown out there in camp, so that's a positive.
@jeannathomas seeing many 4 WR sets in practice or nah now that we have real TEs again?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 11, 2015
They're doing all kinds of interesting things offensively. I'm not seeing as many four-WR sets, though.
@jeannathomas but who ACTUALLY has the best beard right now?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 11, 2015
Joe Hawley has the best beard at the moment, but Matt Bosher's giving him a run for his money.
@jeannathomas Brooks Reed. Should I be worried? Because I'm kinda starting to.— Justin Baker (@TigerRaid) August 11, 2015
It's certainly not an ideal situation, but Dan Quinn said he expects Reed back on the field very soon.
@jeannathomas I hear OL and LB might have questions, but does any unit/position actually cause you concern and or dread right now?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 11, 2015
It's way too early for dread. Let's see what the team looks like in preseason before we rush to judgment. I'd say the offensive line and the linebackers are the areas of concern on each side of the ball at this point.
@jeannathomas what was on the playlist today?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 11, 2015
Too much country, a lot of 90s hip hop, not enough Taylor Swift.
Weigh in with your training camp observations and questions in the comments!