Today's practice was a departure for the Falcons, with players taking the field in shorts and a variety of baseball caps and bucket hats instead of helmets. As you might imagine, the practice was less physical than a padded practice, but the intensity and speed that Dan Quinn and his staff emphasize was certainly a factor.
Devonta Freeman (hamstring), Tevin Coleman (hamstring), Brooks Reed (hip/groin) and Cliff Matthews (ankle) were all held out of practice again, though they did warm up with the team. These players worked with the athletic performance staff on one of the far fields and seem to be running, jumping and cutting fine on their respective injuries. I still think we're at least a week away from seeing the running backs return to the field. Reed and Matthews should be closer to returning.
The offensive line makeup was mostly the same as it has been over the past few days, except that Mike Person got quite a few reps at center. I still expect Hawley to be the starter, but with James Stone emerging as a legitimate candidate for the starting left guard role, Person has emerged as the likely backup center. Peter Konz has struggled with timing and execution.
Ricardo Allen continues to grow into the free safety position. He's been consistently solid, and Allen drew praise from Dan Quinn for an interception during today's practice. I talked to Allen after practice, and he said that the communication is the main element of the free safety position he continues to work to improve, but his play suggests that he's managing the transition well.
Cornerback Kevin White spent some time working with the first team offense today. White, an undrafted free agent out of TCU, was one of the more intriguing college free agents signed by the Falcons following the 2015 NFL Draft, and Dan Quinn said after practice that White has made an impression on the coaching staff.
@jeannathomas anybody not playing Friday?— #FoamHome (@FoAmPositeGaNg1) August 12, 2015
We won't know for certain until we receive the inactives list from the team on Friday, but at this point I would not expect Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Brooks Reed or Cliff Matthews to play at all in the first preseason game.
@jeannathomas haven’t heard anything about Malliciah Goodman this year. Has he impressed at all?— Rise Up Reader (@RiseUpReader) August 12, 2015
Goodman appears to be adapting to the new defensive scheme fine. He's getting plenty of reps, and he's definitely one to keep an eye on throughout the preseason.
@jeannathomas asamoah?— Alex Delcid (@Delcid_A28) August 12, 2015
Are you asking why Asamoah seems to have been supplanted? I think it's a combination of the time he missed during OTAs with a bad ankle sprain and other guys playing well.
@jeannathomas did DQ explain the odd lack of equipment today?— Kyle McClendon (@KyleWMcClendon) August 12, 2015
Kind of, I guess? This is what Quinn said about it after practice.
"There will be times when we'll do this tempo, too, so I thought, what a unique time today to do that. Sometimes we'll go helmets, sometimes not. Sometimes full pads. So every time we're going, I just want the speed and the energy to be the same, so always educating the guys on how we can go do that. But yeah, that was awesome." - Dan Quinn on today's practice
@jeannathomas would it be safe to say kevin white has jumped Southward in the corner back rankings?— Ben Grazebrook (@grazybizzle) August 12, 2015
Dan Quinn has repeatedly said that the team likes to get players experience with the first team because it helps them effectively evaluate players' skill sets and how they can contribute to the team. I wouldn't read too much into it at this point.
@jeannathomas @TheFalcoholic hankerson or hardy primarily in the slot?— Joey Longo (@bubbajlongo) August 12, 2015
Both guys have drawn praise from coaches and teammates for knowing and understanding all of the receiver roles in this offense. I wouldn't pigeonhole either guy as "the slot guy." I think both will have more expansive roles.
@jeannathomas @TheFalcoholic is the O line showing any improvement?— Justin Davis (@Jus10bdmd) August 12, 2015
They looked a little more cohesive yesterday. Today wasn't a good day to gauge their performance because of the lack of contact.
@jeannathomas Did you get some rest— Caleb Rutherford (@FalcoholicZippo) August 12, 2015
Nah, bro, I've got to stay on my grind.
@jeannathomas @TheFalcoholic the defense didn't get sent home early again did they?— Bryant Peters (@BryantPeters) August 12, 2015
No, they did not.
@jeannathomas Your thoughts on adding OL depth?— Jack Davis (@papersackjack) August 12, 2015
The team seems to be happy enough with the guys they currently have on the roster. There does not appear to be a sense of urgency about adding depth.
@jeannathomas @TheFalcoholic there are 30 cows in a field. 28 chickens. how many didn't?— Kendall Jackson (@projectjax) August 12, 2015
Ten. GOT YOU, KENNY.
@jeannathomas how do you see the Offensive line being this year..... how can we improve it— Shane Roberts (@Goldenchildc4w) August 12, 2015
I think they'll be improved from last year. Mastering the new scheme is a big issue, as is establishing sufficient chemistry. We'll have a much better idea of where the line stands after Friday's game, so you may want to ask me this again next week.
@jeannathomas have there been any word on when they will short using Ruby tackling skills?— Fred Hawks (@fbrooks324) August 12, 2015
Autocorrect got you pretty good on this one, Fred. The team's been focused on teaching proper tackling technique throughout the offseason. They're not really doing live, full-speed tackling much even in padded practices, and Ricardo Allen told us today that they avoid it because their primary objective is to protect the team. I think we'll see some new and hopefully improved tackling Friday.
@jeannathomas is there anyone who started off strong and have showed signs of slowing now (injuries not included )— James Davis (@jamesOrex) August 12, 2015
Honestly, no. This was a really good question, but nobody comes to mind. I pretty much see players improving across the board.
@jeannathomas why do you think they went no pads/no helmets two days before game? I understand one day, but both days.— Shedrick Carter (@shedrickcarter2) August 12, 2015
They've had a ton of padded practices, and I think that's the main reason. I think Quinn just wants the guys fresh for Friday.
@jeannathomas any details about fridays game yet or should i just be patient— j_playz (@j_playz) August 12, 2015
The Falcons play the Titans in the Georgia Dome at 7 p.m. Hope that helps.
@jeannathomas are there bugs out there? Is it buggy?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 12, 2015
It's been pretty buggy some days at practice, but today it wasn't too bad.
@jeannathomas what happened to all those ridiculous deadly delicious sandwiches from last year— j_playz (@j_playz) August 12, 2015
I haven't been to the concession stand at all. Are they gone? I watched my colleague Alec Shirkey eat one a couple of years ago and it was really a sight to behold.
@jeannathomas how does one go about watching the preseason game on Friday?— Sinjin Snopczynski (@snopesinjin) August 12, 2015
The game will be broadcast on Atlanta's CW69, and Wes Durham and Dave Archer will be calling the game on the flagship station of the Atlanta Falcons, 92.9 the Game.
What are you expecting from the team on Friday based on what we've learned from training camp so far?