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What to know about Falcons mandatory minicamp practices, which kick off today

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There are a few big items in the first mandatory practice of the offseason.

Atlanta Falcons Rookie Minicamp Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Today is the start of mandatory minicamp for the Atlanta Falcons, an opportunity for the team to come together in an extremely mandated fashion and practice. Nothing like team-enforced togetherness to get things started!

Here’s what you need to know.

Julio Jones is not there

You’d never know it by the discussion swirling around him, but Julio Jones put up over 1,400 yards a year ago as the team’s leading receiver, despite an offseason where he and Matt Ryan did not spend as much time together as either would like. After the OTAs brouhaha, the team talked about Julio being at minicamp, but he’s elected to hold out, cost himself about $80,000 in fines for the moment, and angle for a bigger deal and lengthier job security. I’m hopeful the team and #11 can get this wrapped up by the end of July at the latest, but we’ll have to see.

Injured players should be getting work

This is another opportunity for us to see how the likes of Justin Hardy, Takkarist McKinley, and Andy Levitre are progressing in their returns from injury. It will be worth seeing how much they’re able to actually get on the field with everyone else, as it may be a clue as to whether they’re ready to go for the start of training camp and preseason.

Roster battles will begin to come to the fore

We got a few clues about some of the biggest battles on the roster in OTAs, but they were few and far between. We know, for example, that the fullback battle now has a third entrant, which could indicate some dissatisfaction with the team’s two UDFA options. We also know that there’s a spirited battle for the returner jobs, but that Calvin Ridley won’t be a strong contender after all because the team wants to preserve him for offense. And that is really just about it, at the moment.

Because everyone’s there and practicing together for the first time, we should get a glimpse at how these other battles shake out later in the summer, though again, just a glimpse.

It’s open to the public

You’ll be able to head to Flowery Branch and catch workouts tomorrow for the first and only time during the three day minicamp. If you’re jonesing for some Falcons football, or the best possible version of it here in June, you’ll want to head to the hill next to the team’s practice fields and see how everyone’s doing.

Oh, and if you do go, be sure to let us know what you saw!