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Falcons Training Camp 2016: We're back, baby

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The Falcons kicked off the first day of training camp today, and hooray, football.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons took the practice fields in Flowery Branch this morning to kick off preparation for the 2016 season, and it sure is good to be back.

Before we launch into an overview of the key things that happened at practice today, let's take a moment to remember that we should always take the news out of training camp with a grain of salt. Guys are practicing in shorts and helmets and nothing is at full speed. They're still installing the scheme, so nothing is being done at full speed.

Still, things were pretty fast and physical. Here are some highlights from both sides of the ball and some overall notes.

Offense

  • Austin Hooper looked really good today. He was making contested catches in traffic and maintaining control through the catch. He's really physical and runs nice routes.
  • It appears that the team plans to use the running backs more as receivers out of the backfield. Both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman looked good catching the ball. Yes, Coleman held onto the ball.
  • Mohamed Sanu appears to have really good chemistry with Matt Ryan, and he runs clean routes and his timing is good. Again, nothing is at full speed, but these things matter in the grand scheme.
  • Aldrick Robinson also looked good. He's one to keep an eye on as the team makes final decisions about the 53-man roster.
  • There was quite a bit of mixing and matching along the offensive line. Mike Person got some first team reps at right guard. Wes Schweitzer drew praise from Jake Matthews after practice, with Matthews complimenting Schweitzer's communication at the line of scrimmage and the fact that he's already earning first-team reps.

Defense

  • The first interception of training camp went to presumptive starting free safety Ricardo Allen. Yes, he picked off Matt Ryan, but it was a good read.
  • De'Vondre Campbell is FAST and he can cover. Man, he could actually be a difference maker. He broke up a deep ball to Tevin Coleman, a pass that, if caught, would surely have been a touchdown.
  • None of the rookie defenders stood out as looking slow or lost, and typically you'll see at least a few noticeable lapses. This is fundamentally wonderful news for Keanu Neal, Campbell and Deion Jones, who seem to be acclimating to the NFL well.
  • Sean Weatherspoon, with the exception of getting beat deep once for a touchdown by Devonta Freeman, looked really good. If used correctly, he'll be an asset for the team this season.

Of note

  • Julio Jones tweaked something, though Dan Quinn declined to say what the tweak was, and Jones removed himself from play in the middle of practice. He talked to the athletic performance staff and determined he could come back in, but the team decided to hold him out until tomorrow. Quinn said he should return tomorrow.
  • Don't forget that we're doing our Facebook Live mailbag tonight at 8:30 p.m., so get your training camp questions ready and tune into our Facebook page for the answers.