Sunday was the final Falcons training camp practice that was open to the public, and fans took advantage. The team counted a record 6,396 people in attendance, which set a new record for the Falcons.
It was also Military Day, and honoring our veterans and active duty service members is something near and dear to Dan Quinn’s heart.
“We wanted to dedicate this practice to them for all of their sacrifice,” Quinn said after practice. “That was such an important thing. You saw the different colored jerseys out there today. Everything today was focused on them.”
Here are five things we learned from Sunday’s practice.
1. There are some injuries.
Ryan Schraeder and Jack Crawford both had to leave Sunday’s practice. Schraeder just has a cut that needed attention, and he should return to practice Monday, Quinn said. He did not have an update on Crawford immediately after practice. Damontae Kazee left the field with an ankle injury, but got it taped up and got back in there.
2. Taylor Gabriel’s cleat game is straight fire.
3. Quinn’s getting Steve Sarkisian and Marquand Manuel ready for game day.
With the first preseason game looming, Quinn wanted to be sure his new coordinators are prepared.
“It’s been real intentional that we’ve had less scripted plays and more move the ball,” Quinn said. “I wanted Sarkisian and Marquand Manuel to be in the game calling mode. It was really by design. We had quite a few move the ball situations and a competition in the red zone. The last few days we’ve played the first quarter and then two minute halves. We played a third quarter. We’re trying to create those environments for the guys.
“It will take work to get there, but we’ll get there. That type of communication we need to go through the exercises and keep doing them.”
4. Tight end is a position to keep an eye on.
Eric Saubert had the play of the day on Sunday, according to Vaughn McClure, and the rookie will need to stand out to carve out a spot in a crowded position group.
“The tight end spot is a critical one in our offense. It’s the play action pass game that we do. The keepers are a factor on third down as well,” Quinn said. “Austin Hooper is involved and working Levine Toilolo in. The we have this big battle going on with Saubert and Josh Perkins. They’re both different and how do we feature them?”
And the good news for Saubert is that he is standing out.
“We’ve been impressed by Saubert so far. We can’t wait to get him in,” Quinn said. “I think he has a role on this team based on his speed. We’re throwing a lot at him and he wants to keep coming at it.”
Saubert is also getting some mentoring from Austin Hooper.
“Hooper’s been a nice connection for him. Both of them are football junkies,” Quinn said. “If you walk past the tight end room, you’ll see them in there watching other guys, studying other routes, doing this, and making cuts. Mentoring can take place at all levels. Although they’re the same age, Hooper came out early and Saubert is here, you can mentor at any spot.”
5. The Falcons are treating preseason like preseason.
Quinn always stresses competition and going for it and all of those little catchphrases he’s popularized within this fan base. But don’t expect the team to go all out in preseason action this Thursday against the Dolphins.
“We generally don’t treat it the same as in season. We are in training camp mode and then we go battle for it and really get evaluations on players,” Quinn said. “It’s critical in the preseason. You’re trying to not only get your skills sharp, but also find out about a lot of new players and see where their skills are at and what versatility they have. We don’t do the game planning part of it to get ready. It’s really more about us in the highest sense.”
The Falcons are practicing today, but it is closed to the public. They practice tomorrow, have a walk through on Wednesday, and then head to Miami for the first game of the preseason.