The Falcons took the practice field in pads today to work on correcting the issues they saw on film after Friday night's win over the Titans. There was plenty of positive news on the injury front, as Dave noted earlier, as Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Brooks Reed, Cliff Matthews, and Devin Hester all returned to the field in full pads today. They all had a limited workload, as expected, but it's excellent progress nonetheless.
Antone Smith was out today, obviously, as he's recovering from a hamstring injury suffered during Friday night's game, and Desmond Trufant was also out with the shoulder strain from last week.
One thing that was really noticeable today was the second team offense working against the first team defense and vice versa. This gives the coaching staff the ability to better evaluate players' ability and also pushes those second team units to improve.
- WR Nick Williams, who stood out in Friday's game, actually got some work with the first team offense today.
- The starting o-line was the same lineup as last week's. Jonathan Asamoah and Mike Person were running with the second team.
- Matt Ryan looks really good in play action situations. There was a play in 11-on-11s today where the defense maintained coverage and Ryan had to extend the play with his legs. Obviously, the defense isn't allowed to hit Ryan, which was a factor, but Ryan looked really comfortable extending the play and then hitting new running back Evan Royster on a short pass.
- Julio Jones had one Matt Ryan pass go right through his hands when it was pouring rain, but he also hauled in a one-handed sideline catch a few minutes later.
- Sean Renfree seemed to get more second team work today.
- With Desmond Trufant out today, Robert Alford took some snaps in the nickel while Phillip Adams and Kevin White got first team looks outside.
- Ricardo Allen is really developing confidence at free safety. He's a good fit for this physical scheme. In one-on-ones against Levine Toilolo, who is 11 inches taller than Allen, Allen was aggressive enough to break up the pass. There haven't been many passes during camp that Toilolo hasn't hauled in, which made Allen's coverage more impressive.
@jeannathomas How's Phillip Adams looking?— Non Famous JD (@JerDavis05) August 17, 2015
Adams has been excellent throughout minicamp/OTAs and training camp, and the coaching staff has rewarded him with plenty of first team opportunities.
@jeannathomas is any particular reason why Alford was in at Nickel?— Shedrick Carter (@shedrickcarter2) August 17, 2015
This coaching staff likes to evaluate guys in different roles to try to get a sense of each player's particular skill set and how they can best use their talents to help the team win.
@jeannathomas how was breakfast?— Kevin Green (@fukchipsters) August 17, 2015
I didn't eat breakfast. I woke up super-late this morning and ran out of time. Please do not follow my bad example. Breakfast is important.
@jeannathomas How did Renfree look taking 2nd team reps today?— The DW (@FalcoholicDW) August 17, 2015
Renfree looked really good. He looks poised and confident. It will be really interesting to see who works with the second team in Friday's game.
@jeannathomas after seeing the same oline for the last two weeks, do you still believe that Jon Asamoah will get his job back?— Shedrick Carter (@shedrickcarter2) August 17, 2015
Yeah, I am actually starting to think I may have been wrong about Asamoah getting his starting role back. Quinn did say after practice that the team will continue to evaluate different offensive line combinations, so it's something to keep an eye on over the next few weeks, but they seem pretty settled on the starting five for now.
@jeannathomas how was the running game today? It was lackluster on friday— Vinny Falcon (@Vincruze) August 17, 2015
The running game is always going to look better in practice because the team limits contact even in padded practices. This coaching staff emphasizes protecting the team, so they're not hitting at full speed or anything. I do think getting Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman back will help, but I was concerned about run blocking in Friday's game. Let's hope we see improvement on that front this week.
@jeannathomas what was the team looking to correct/emphasis after the game?— Troy (@TristramLeroy) August 17, 2015
Quinn always says there's room for improvement in every aspect of the game, and players seem to buy into that as well. I'd say the run game is certainly an area the team will focus on improving.
@jeannathomas It sounds like Robert Alford finally saw some action at the nickel today. Do you know how many reps he got? How did he look?— D Luger (@dahgrt1) August 17, 2015
Alford can easily transition to nickel if that's what the team decides is best for him. He looked fine.
@jeannathomas Early reports made cutting Bartu seem like a foregone conclusion. Now good play vs Titans + ST value. Does he make final 53?— D Luger (@dahgrt1) August 17, 2015
I think Joplo Bartu has a reasonable shot at the final 53. He definitely has special teams value and could be effective as a rotational player.
@jeannathomas how did brooks reed look out there today since it was his first time in pads?— Ian McCluskey (@DirtyBirds84) August 17, 2015
Reed was limited to individual drills as far as I could tell, so it's hard to really assess his performance. I'll keep an eye on him as the team expands his workload.
They practice play action quite a bit, and what's interesting to me is that all three quarterbacks are pretty adept at it. I need to re-watch Friday's game this afternoon, but in real time, I felt like Yates looked best in play action scenarios. I'm really impressed with how Ryan looks running play action.
@jeannathomas How did Nick Williams look during his reps with the 1st team offense?— Matt James (@MattyShack11) August 17, 2015
Williams has actually been solid throughout training camp, and I know he caught a lot of fans' eyes on Friday night. He looked good running with the first team. It's a big difference having Matt Ryan throw you the ball as opposed to Yates or Renfree, so it's nice that he's getting the opportunity to showcase his talent.
@jeannathomas So far in camp do you believe Marquez Clark and Nick Williams have leapfrogged Bernard Reedy?— D Luger (@dahgrt1) August 17, 2015
It's hard to know, but based on first team reps today, I'd say Williams has at least. The problem is that WR is such a crowded position. I think Devin Hester and Eric Weems have shown enough to warrant spots on the 53, but one of those guys may be cut and one of these guys might stick if the team carries six receivers.
@jeannathomas was the rb pickup more then just for depth?— Allan Haigh (@ahaigh13) August 17, 2015
I truly don't think so, but Royster did get to run a little with the first team today. I think he'll get a fair shot to compete for a role.
@jeannathomas Was there any let up in intensity after Titans game? We still hungry?— Paul Sullivan (@ItsPaulAgain) August 17, 2015
Dan Quinn wouldn't tolerate any decrease in intensity! The team was still fast and physical today.
@jeannathomas Am I alone in thinking Hardy's interception was more the result of one of MANY low/behind Yates passes over catching w/ body?— D Luger (@dahgrt1) August 17, 2015
You're definitely not alone. I saw several people suggest this was a factor. I felt like it was mostly on Justin Hardy, but I haven't re-watched the game yet.
@jeannathomas do you think both 7th round picks stick? I've heard more positives than negatives about Jake Rodgers & Akeem King in camp.— D Luger (@dahgrt1) August 17, 2015
I could see Akeem King locking up a spot on the final 53. I believe the team will stash Jake Rodgers on the practice squad, but I could be wrong. Both guys are coming along nicely.
@jeannathomas Who claims the #2 TE spot? The news lately has been mostly + about Toilolo making catches & - w/ Moeaki dropping balls.— D Luger (@dahgrt1) August 17, 2015
I'm really starting to think Toilolo is the TE2. He has improved dramatically.
@jeannathomas what about D Hester? When can we expect to see him?— Chandler Gray (@13Chandler13) August 17, 2015
Hester was back at practice today.
@jeannathomas After the Titans game has the Terron Ward hype train started to fade a little? Did he look explosive w/ the 1s today?— D Luger (@dahgrt1) August 17, 2015
Ward was underwhelming Friday night, but so was the blocking. He got plenty of first team work today and looked good.
@jeannathomas do they like James Stone better at G or C or is it entirely still too early to tell?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 17, 2015
The first team center competition seems to be primarily between Joe Hawley and Mike Person. I think they like Stone at guard and as a backup center, potentially.
@jeannathomas glad to hear Hester back out there but cant shake feeling hes becoming expendable. Is there good competition at KR/PR?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 17, 2015
There's plenty of competition. Eric Weems, Robert Alford, Nick Williams, Bernard Reedy and others have all gotten shots to return kicks and punts.
@jeannathomas any tweaks to the stretching regimen after all these hamstrings or they not worried about it?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 17, 2015
There were no noticeable changes to what the team does on the field to warm up and stretch, but they may have made changes behind the scenes with the athletic performance staff, so it's hard to know.
@jeannathomas Tyler Starr got a lot of props Friday... anything noteworthy today on his end?— j_playz (@j_playz) August 17, 2015
Okay, this whole Q&A has become the @j_playz show and I only answered about half the questions he sent me. Starr has really improved, and it showed on the field on Friday, I thought. This scheme is a good fit for him. He's using his speed intelligently.
@jeannathomas did you see Mike Shanahan?— Dexter Wallace (@DexterWallace7) August 17, 2015
I did not, though I was aware he was here.
@jeannathomas how bad is Smiths hamstring?— Dexter Wallace (@DexterWallace7) August 17, 2015
I think it's just a normal hamstring injury. He'll probably miss as much time as Freeman and Coleman have.
Have questions about camp? Ask them in the comments!