The Falcons took the practice field yesterday for the first time since minicamp wrapped in June. The long wait is over. Football is actually back, and Dan Quinn is excited to get to work.
“It feels good to be back on the field with the team,” Quinn said Thursday. “Right away I can sense the work they put in over the summer, and I’m not surprised they put that work in.”
There are 90 guys out there on the field, and 37 of them won’t make the roster. Still, players know that in Atlanta, the guys who earn it are the ones who get spots in the final 53. It does make for some heated (literally, too, because it’s Georgia) competition in Flowery Branch.
That said, we’re just going into the second day of training camp. I would caution you to not freak out if Matt Ryan throws an interception or Robert Alford drops an easy pick. And if you’re wondering how either of the lines look, take whatever you hear with a grain of salt. We can assess technique and speed when the guys aren’t in pads, but it’s hard to really evaluate their performance with no contact.
And yes, training camp coverage gets a little repetitive, for those who read it and for those who provide it.
I'll write your article: it was hot, everyone played hard, DQ loved the intensity, and we'll be back tomorrow to correct more mistakes.— Daniel Levak (@DJLevak) July 28, 2017
Still, it’s football, and we’re excited.
Here are five things we learned from Day 1 of Falcons training camp.
1. Three guys are limited, but nobody’s on PUP.
This is great news. Takk McKinley is limited as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery, but he did participate in individual drills. Julio Jones said during minicamp that he felt good to go, and holding him back is likely a precaution to keep him as healthy as possible. Taylor Gabriel is also limited. Quinn said the plan was to work all three into fill participation by next week.
2. Dontari Poe met his weight goal.
He got an extra $125,000 for it, too. Poe looks trim, and he was explosive when he was playing at 346. I can’t wait to see what he does now that he’s under 330.
3. We’re going to see a rotation at RG.
This one isn’t a surprise. Yesterday, Quinn said that Ben Garland got a lot of the first-team work, but ESPN’s Vaughn McClure said it looked like Wes Schweitzer did, too. Both guys, along with rookie Sean Harlow and some others, will get into the rotation so the coaches can see who is the best fit.
4. We’ll see this same kind of rotation elsewhere on the field.
This is how Quinn approaches position battles, and he also likes to get everybody snaps with the first team. That way, backups have good chemistry with starters if they ever have to step up when someone gets hurt.
It also gives a better assessment of how well a player is playing. If a guy is in coverage against third or fourth-string receivers, he might look amazing. Then if he goes up against Julio Jones or Taylor Gabriel, it could be a whole other story. So look for Quinn to switch things up.
5. Staying hydrated is a challenge.
I’ll be at camp today, and you can follow along with tweets from Falcons media and others below for real-time updates from today’s practice.