The Atlanta Falcons wrapped up their first day of training camp practices, and it was glorious to see our favorite players back on the field and doing football-related things. We’re still a mont-plus away from the regular season, but we’re drawing closer every day, and practices should provide plenty of fodder for discussion until we get there.
Here are a few key takeaways from practices, as compiled from observers. Our own Jeanna Thomas will be at camp today, so make sure you check out her reports!
Hardy, Hall in running for punt returner gig
You can’t read too much into the first day of camp, but I thought it was noteworthy that these two players got the first bite at the apple.
Marvin Hall’s path to a roster spot essentially runs through the returner job, as he’ll be at best the fifth receiver if he actually makes the team. Justin Hardy should hang around either way, but with his contract up after the year, winning one or both of the returner jobs would bolster his case to return to Atlanta as the long-term fourth option in the receiving corps. Hall’s got a little more speed and wiggle than Hardy, but Hardy’s sure-handedness and physicality make him an intriguing option.
I don’t expect this battle to actually be settled until the end of preseason, but monitor!
Only two players are back returning punts right now for the #Falcons: Justin Hardy and Marvin Hall.— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) July 27, 2018
Takk is back (and healthy)
The Falcons need Takkarist McKinley to be healthy and effective this year if they’re going to have success on defense, and while we won’t know until later just how much he’s going to improve over his solid rookie season, we do know he’s healthy.
How? He told us himself.
Takk McKinley says he is full go and it’s “hunting” season pic.twitter.com/VWs3AJ84DZ— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) July 27, 2018
The defensive line is one of Atlanta’s biggest question marks, given that they have no clear-cut starter next to Grady Jarrett and greatly thinned out their depth at defensive end. Takk being the monster he obviously has the talent to be would erase a lot of those questions, so I’m looking forward to seeing him wreak a little havoc.
On Friday, the Falcons and Julio alike were gamely denying that he ever intended to holdout into training camp. I’m not sure I believe that, but thankfully we never had to find out, so it’s whatever.
There was always the possibility, no matter how slim, that the team would see holdouts from the likes of Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, or Ricardo Allen, given that all three are in contract years. But the team has promised to take care of all of them, and sure enough, they extended Jake Matthews with a new 5 year, $75 million deal that will keep him Atlanta into the next decade. Jarrett and Allen are up next, and none of them held out.
Good vibes abound, in other words, as we return to camp. Let’s see what today brings.