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What did we actually learn from 2017 Falcons training camp?

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Six things, some of them useful.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons-Training Camp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is thrilling when it first arrives, and to the last, it provides entertainment after months of waiting for real football. What it often does not provide is any real, deep insight into what the team is going to look like later in the year.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything to glean from this training camp when it ended yesterday, however. Here’s some of our core takeaways for your consideration, and we’d welcome yours once you’ve read up. Bring on the season, please.

  1. The Jalen Collins story will be the defining story of camp, for better or for worse, because of the surprise and intrigue that came with it. The Falcons have to make changes at cornerback because of it, could wind up cutting a former second round pick due to the suspension, and it became a firestorm of controversy for fans both immediately and inevitably. Considering that it was otherwise a relatively quiet, calm camp, that matters.
  2. Devin Fuller’s injury was a heartbreaker, and it deprived us of the intrigue of a real battle for the returner job. Fuller’s obvious talent made him an early favorite for a roster spot each of the last two offseasons, and now he’s not a lock to even be in play for a roster spot in 2018. I hate when that happens.
  3. Steve Sarkisian is getting along well with his new offense. Marquand Manuel already had an existing rapport with the secondary and is renowned as a coach, so it’s little surprise when we hear he’s taking well to his new duties as defensive coordinator. It’s a little more noteworthy when Sark does, and when the offense shows out in its first, limited preseason test. There’s a long way to go before we see just how good Manuel and Sark will be for this team, however.
  4. Dontari Poe has stood out throughout camp, with that lost weight making him look legitimately faster and more dynamic. We’ve seen plenty of camp stars turn into duds, but Poe is going to be counted upon in this defense, and even early signs are welcome signs.
  5. We didn’t really get a lot of clarity on position battles, sadly. Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer are still locked into a battle for the right guard spot, linebacker isn’t quite settled yet, and cornerback still looks like a little bit of a dogfight post-Collins. The only spot that seems truly settled is returner, where Andre Roberts is the obvious choice.
  6. For all that, training camp did serve as a launching pad for some intriguing young players, and one or two of them might buck the recent trends and wind up making the roster. Marvin Hall at receiver, J’Terius Jones at defensive end, and Mike Meyer at kicker have all done enough to merit real consideration for at least a practice squad spot. We’ll see if they can keep it up now that camp is over.

What were your core takeaways?