Mandatory minicamp is over, and we’re back in the desert between spring practices and training camp. All we can do is look ahead, but before we do that, let’s take a look at a few things we learned from minicamp here in June.
Calvin Ridley is progressing well
#Falcons rookie Calvin Ridley says he feels pretty good about his first minicamp, but he’s definitely noticed how much more detailed NFL receivers are with their routes. pic.twitter.com/lFnUGnnt31— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) June 14, 2018
With Julio Jones running furiously through sand dunes while Terrell Owens encourages him, Ridley was the most exciting receiver at minicamp. He had a couple of drops in practices, something that we’ll hope doesn’t persist into the season, but he impressed just about everyone and seems to be a quick study.
I’m not quite sure how many opportunities the rookie’s going to get in 2018, but the fact that he’s arriving in the NFL as a refined router runner and is already noticing the work he has ahead to get better bodes well.
Isaiah Oliver is playing outside
Rookie cornerback Isaiah Oliver said he’s played mostly right cornerback since he’s gotten here. He thinks he’ll move around during training camp some, but thinks he’ll be outside for the most part.— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) June 14, 2018
We all saw this coming, right? Oliver’s not a lock to be on the field a ton when the Falcons are playing a true 4-3 front, as Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are the unquestioned starters. When the team is in its “base” nickel set, however, Oliver will be outside opposite either Tru or Alford, with one of those two kicking inside. That’s a potentially formidable trio, and Oliver has enough talent to be an asset immediately for Atlanta.
Wes Schweitzer isn’t out just yet
Just a drill but looks like Wes Schweitzer working at right guard with Brandon Fusco watching. pic.twitter.com/ny4YSmaoPk— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) June 13, 2018
The assumption is that Brandon Fusco is going to start at right guard this year. The Falcons made him more or less the crown jewel of their free agency crop, as sad as that sentence is, and he’s a solid veteran with real run blocking chops. I still think that’s a safe assumption.
It’s likely the Falcons will treat right guard as at least a nominal competition this summer, though. Schweitzer did start every game a year ago, and while he had his brutal moments along the way, he was a solid enough player who will make a fine reserve. The Falcons will give him a legitimate chance to overtake Fusco, and while I doubt he’ll get it done, Atlanta’s going to be in solid shape at guard this year if injury strikes with Schweitzer and Ben Garland available.
Keep an eye on Eric Saubert
TE Eric Saubert was making plays on Day ☝️— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 13, 2018
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Austin Hooper is the starter and Logan Paulsen will be the muscle when the ground game needs another blocker, but Saubert’s still a deeply intriguing player. The raw Drake product spent most of his rookie season either on the bench or on special teams, but with the pads off he showed that impressive pass catching ability and athleticism that made him an interesting project in the first place. Saubert will have to do it all summer and once the pads go on, but the talent is certainly there, and he may well push his way past Paulsen for snaps this year. It’d be nice if the Falcons had two legitimate pass catching threats at the position for a change.