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Atlanta Falcons 2018 training camp tracker and expectations for Thursday’s practice

What will today bring for our beloved birds?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons-Training Camp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The summer continues summerly on with our Falcons preparing for their first preseason game next Friday, and more importantly, the season ahead. With so many glowing reports out of camp, it is difficult not to get swept up into the hype.

And hey, let it sweep you up a little bit. Dialing expectations down is what we do as Falcons fans, but this is a team that should be enjoyable to watch at the very least and potentially elite if everything breaks right. For the moment, we’re only going to catch glimpses of that in practice, but it’s enough for early August.

What should you look for today? Here’s a quick list:

  • Early levels of separation, some of which we’ve already seen. Justin Crawford is a good example of this, as he appears to have put some early distance between himself and fellow UDFA Malik Williams, but it also applies to contentious battles like right guard, fullback, and the returner gigs.
  • How do the breakout candidates look? Eric Saubert has impressed early and could muscle his way into a larger role if he keeps it up, but you’ll also want to keep an eye on players like Grady Jarrett (primed for a massive year), De’Vondre Campbell (ditto), and Damontae Kazee (who looks very good despite his evident lack of a role).
  • How does the red zone work look? One persistent, nettlesome thing we’ve heard early in camp is that the Falcons aren’t doing particularly well inside the 20 on offense here in training camp. Considering that held them back significantly in 2017, it’s something worth monitoring.
  • The return of Takkarist McKinley, who is day-to-day. My guess is that you won’t see him back in action until next week, but he’ll be a welcome sight when he does.

As always, our tracker for the day is below, and in between the jokes we’ll share some interesting observations collected by Jeanna Thomas and the assembled Atlanta media.