The Falcons were back at it again on Wednesday, and the team was getting it done in the trenches. That’s something Dan Quinn thinks is incredibly important.
“The big guys, I definitely have a spot in my heart for them,” Quinn said after practice. “I know the strain they go after one another on every single play, especially the interior players, the guards, the centers, and the defensive tackles. There’s no fair dodging. It’s every play dealing with the guy across from you. That strain that they go against one another is where the respect comes from.”
Quinn loves the effort and competition he’s seeing from both lines.
“They compete against one another day after day after day. Some days you’re going to win that fight and some days I’m going to on specific plays,” Quinn said. “It’s honestly about going to the next one to go battle for it again.
“It’s a fun group. It’s highly competitive for sure.”
Here’s what else we learned on Wednesday.
1. Julio Jones is back.
The biggest and best news was that Julio Jones returned to full team drills. They’ve been easing Jones back in after he underwent offseason surgery to address the toe issue he suffered last season.
Jones has said since minicamp that he feels good, but the team didn’t want to rush him and risk further injury. That’s smart. But he did get some full team drills in on Wednesday.
“We knew he was moving back closer. In the first four-day block, it was going to be all individual and getting his conditioning right,” Quinn said of Jones’ return. “Now, we’re going back to return to play so to speak.”
The team hasn’t yet decided whether they’ll play Jones in the preseason, Quinn said.
2. No decision is imminent on the right guard position.
We keep saying that it’s too close to call between Schweitzer and Ben Garland at this point. Quinn told the media that we don’t have to keep asking about it every day.
“We’re still battling for it at right guard,” Quinn said. “We haven’t made a decision on that one. It is a decision we will wait to make for a few weeks so you don’t have to ask every day and feel uncomfortable about that with new stories. I’ll let you know when I have an update in that way.”
3. The first team corners right now do not include Jalen Collins.
The other big story in training camp has been Jalen Collins’ perceived demotion. Nobody thought Collins would start over Desmond Trufant or Robert Alford, though. Quinn confirmed that Collins is hovering around second- or third-team status on the depth chart.
“Right now, our first group is Robert Alford and Brian Poole inside at nickel and on the other side is Desmond Trufant,” Quinn said. “At times, it might feel like Collins is in the second or third group. That’s where he is on the depth chart right now. I know it came out yesterday that he was working with the third group. Sometimes it may seem like that with how it works out, but those are the first three and then we’re working him in behind that group.”
4. Devonta Freeman and Andre Roberts were banged up.
Freeman was able to come back and finish practice. It looked like he rolled his ankle. He’s such a tough guy. We’re trying to teach him to say, ‘Nope, they’re going no huddle, you need to get in or get out’. It was a good learning lesson for him, but he’s doing well. He came back in and finished practice today.”
“He is a tough guy. We’re hopeful that we’ll possibly get into some stuff tomorrow. He really wanted to go today and from a training standpoint they wanted to do some rehab with him. He moved and did some running. We’re hopeful he’ll be back in the next day or two. He’s pushing it. He’s probably had his best two days with the team over the last couple days. I know he’s anxious to get back out there as well.”
5. Ric Flair was at practice again.