After a rocky day yesterday, the team took a more laid-back approach in today's practice. There was a lot of active instruction from coaches as the team worked to correct the issues that troubled them yesterday, the pace remained fast and everything was very focused, as usual. After three days of padded practices, the team was back in shorts and helmets today.
Several players missed practice with a stomach bug that's sweeping through the locker room, apparently. Jonathan Asamoah, who missed Wednesday's practice with the illness, was out again today. Vic Beasley, Justin Hardy and Brooks Reed were all held out with the same illness. Reed, of course, is also dealing with a groin and hip strain, so he's having a great day.
Tevin Coleman was out again today as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury, and his position group teammate and primary competition in camp, Devonta Freeman, also left practice with a hamstring injury. Dan Quinn said that the team is still waiting on the results of further tests to determine the extent of the knee injury suffered by Beau Gardner, an undrafted free agent tight end out of Northern Arizona, in yesterday's practice.
Matt Ryan looks really comfortable in the new offensive scheme. He even had one roll out today that he converted to a run for a decent gain.
Leonard Hankerson is looking like a fantastic addition to the receiving corps. He does have an exceptional catch radius, and he does a great job of securing receptions with his hands as opposed to trapping the ball against his body. He consistently looks the ball into his hands and his routes are really clean.
Terron Ward has consistently impressed throughout camp and took advantage of first team reps after Devonta Freeman left practice with a hamstring injury.
Tyler Polumbus seems to be moving around the line quite a bit. Today he took some reps at left guard. The team seems to not be settled on a starting unit yet, and this is definitely something to keep an eye on in the days ahead and throughout preseason. It's really important to ensure that backups are experienced enough to step in when necessary, a lesson the team has surely learned over the past two seasons, but it's also important to let the starting unit develop chemistry as a group.
Peter Konz struggled today. His timing was off and he had a couple of really bad snaps to Sean Renfree.
Kyle Shanahan is just as hands-on in practice as Dan Quinn. He was an active participant in some offensive drills.
Second-round selection Jalen Collins missed some time during OTAs due to a lingering foot injury, and it has impacted his ability to adapt to the speed of the game. Collins had a rough day of practice today, which Dan Quinn attributed in part to the caliber of receivers Collins must face on the field each day.
Adrian Clayborn has really impressed throughout camp. His speed coming off the snap reminds you why he was a first round pick.
Phillip Adams continues to play really well, and he took some snaps with the first team in the nickel.
Paul Soliai scored a touchdown on a fake field goal toward the end of practice. It was a sight to behold.
@jeannathomas do you think Julio will stick?— Matt (@FalconsM5) August 6, 2015
Yeah, he's pretty good.
@jeannathomas oline anymore cohesive yet?— Cory Kight (@cdizinthebiz) August 6, 2015
They're getting there, but changing up personnel so much is slowing down that process.
@jeannathomas do you think kyle shanahan being OC will make the birds offense connect more better than the Dirk Kottler offense of yrs past?— Dwayne God Gittens (@ruggamontana) August 6, 2015
Chemistry seems pretty good between the skill position guys. I think there will also be an emphasis on scheming around players' strengths, which should help.
@jeannathomas Any hageman news/observations?— Rise Up (@ATLJD) August 6, 2015
Hageman looks great. He looks really fast since slimming down. I'm excited to see what he does in preseason.
@jeannathomas Does T Ward have a legitimate shot at getting reps in the regular season?— Thaddeus (@Falcons4L) August 6, 2015
Anything can happen, but with Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Antone Smith likely ahead of him on the depth chart and a limited number of roster spots to devote to that position, it still feels like a long shot. He may be more of a practice squad candidate. He's been truly impressive throughout camp.
@jeannathomas any news or updates on Antone?— Ryan Howes (@howes_ryan) August 6, 2015
He's running at full speed, and there are no apparent lingering issues from the broken leg he suffered last season. Dan Quinn talks a lot about figuring out the best ways to play to each guy's strengths, so I'm eager to see what they come up with for Antone this preseason.
@jeannathomas you think G Jarrett will play a role this year?— TM (@ThomasGM) August 6, 2015
Probably special teams and maybe he'll rotate in for a few defensive snaps. He's pretty agile and quick for his size and should be an asset on special teams.
@jeannathomas who wins this last days of training camp: offense or defense ? based on TD or turnovers— max contreras (@maxcontrerasg) August 6, 2015
Each unit has had good days and not-so-good days. I'd say it's pretty even at this point.
@jeannathomas how Is Tyson Jackson doing so far in camp?— Ian McCluskey (@DirtyBirds84) August 6, 2015
Jackson hasn't particularly stood out to me one way or the other, but I'll keep an eye on him tomorrow.
@jeannathomas How has Marquis Spruill looked in camp?— Los_Johnny (@familia_john) August 6, 2015
Spruill looks healthy and has played well. He even got some first team snaps yesterday.
@jeannathomas how has Tyler starr looked? I also haven't heard about Jake Matthews in a few days. Does he look 100%?— Jonathan Geach (@jbgeach) August 6, 2015
Jake Matthews does look to be 100%. He's adapting to the new scheme nicely. His technique and understanding of how to use leverage are remarkable. Tyler Starr looks improved. I think the new scheme benefits him greatly.
@jeannathomas How much should Tom Brady's pool cover actually cost?— Chris (@chrispcall) August 6, 2015
One billion dollars.
@jeannathomas how have the other coaches like Raheem been interacting with the players. Are they as hands on as Quinn?— Lord Hudson (@L0rd91) August 6, 2015
Yes, the whole coaching staff is really hands on and interactive. It's really fun to watch Kyle Shanahan physically demonstrating things in drills or Raheem Morris tussling with Roddy White a little.
@jeannathomas where do babies come from?— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) August 6, 2015
Not from Falcons training camp, I can tell you that much.
@jeannathomas with freeman going down today, why isn't Antone Smith getting first team reps?— Royale Gaddis (@DepthPerc3ption) August 6, 2015
Antone's skill set is really better suited to change of pace duties. He's a dynamic player and there should be an important role for him in this offense, but he's not really a feature back.
@jeannathomas How will our run stop look against Philly 2 headed monster RBs because all the talk has been about our pass rush.— Royale Gaddis (@DepthPerc3ption) August 6, 2015
I think the run defense will also be improved this season. There's been a real emphasis on gap discipline and players seem to be taking good angles to ball carriers. Those elements plus improved tackling should help a great deal.
@jeannathomas how is Chester looking in pass pro? On Oline as a whole, has there been any aggressive pancake blocking in the running game?— Ville Terenius (@ThatTerenius) August 6, 2015
Chris Chester looks okay, but they keep switching up the line personnel, so it's hard to get a good feel for that unit as a whole right now. Obviously the coaching staff doesn't believe they've found the best combination yet. The run blocking is letting the running backs get outside the way they need to on a pretty regular basis, so that's encouraging.
What do you want to know about Falcons training camp so far? Ask your questions and share your observations in the comments.