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Falcons OTA Update: Vic Beasley & Deion Jones absent, Takk and Luke Stocker scuffle

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We’ve got some interesting tidbits from the Falcons’ OTA session on Thursday. Vic Beasley and Deion Jones were absent from the voluntary workouts, while Takk and Luke Stocker got into a bit of a scuffle near the end of practice.

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

As of this week, the Falcons are getting started with the first OTAs of the 2019 offseason. Thursday’s practice was the first to be openly covered by the media, and therefore it’s our first chance to see Atlanta’s rookies and veterans on the field together at the same time. There were some notable absences, some players returning from injury, and some pretty interesting tidbits from Thursday’s session. I’ve got the highlights for you below.

Vic Beasley and Deion Jones were absent

We had already heard that DT Grady Jarrett and WR Julio Jones would be skipping voluntary OTAs, but we got some info on the other absent players today. EDGE Vic Beasley and LB Deion Jones were also missing from today’s OTA session. Quinn described Deion’s (and Julio’s) absence as “rehabbing”, although we aren’t sure what exactly that means. When asked about Vic, Quinn actually seemed a little disappointed that he wasn’t there—he said that Vic “wanted to stay with some of the training he’s been doing”.

Quinn did say he expected Beasley back for mandatory minicamp. To be clear, OTAs are 100% voluntary, and there aren’t any requirements for players to be there. However, unlike Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett, and Julio Jones, Vic has none of the proven production or trust that those three players have built up over their tenures with the Falcons.

Early OL lineups

Obviously it’s still very early in the process, but we got our first glimpse at the state of the OL at this point in the offseason. We got a chance to see both the first-team and second-team OL groups during Thursday’s OTA session, which looked like this:

First-team

LT: Jake Matthews
LG: James Carpenter
C: Alex Mack
RG: Jamon Brown
RT: Ty Sambrailo

Second-team

LT: Matt Gono
LG: Adam Gettis
C: Wes Schweitzer
RG: Chris Lindstrom
RT: Kaleb McGary

We did hear that McGary got some work with the first-team group towards the end of practice, but I wouldn’t read too much into the rookies kicking things off with the second unit. Quinn preaches competition for everyone and he means it: last season, Brandon Fusco started on the second-team and had to earn his first-team spot—which he did after a short time.

The most interesting development from these early groupings has to be Wes Schweitzer as the primary backup C—not Adam Gettis. We had heard that Schweitzer was getting some cross-training at center last offseason, and it appears that training will continue in 2019. If Schweitzer can handle the backup center role this year, that makes his path to the 53-man roster a lot easier.

Kendall Sheffield, Devonta Freeman return from injuries

Falcons’ fourth-round pick, CB Kendall Sheffield, who suffered a pectoral injury at the NFL Combine, has finally returned to the field. He was able to practice fully today, and was back returning kicks and punts as well. Meanwhile, RB Devonta Freeman claimed that he is now 100% healthy after missing almost the entire 2018 season.

Freeman returning at full strength is great news for a Falcons offense that very much missed his consistently productive running style. Let’s hope that he can finally get back to wrecking the league in 2019 behind what should be an improved offensive line.

Meanwhile, S Keanu Neal, S Ricardo Allen, and WR Marcus Green were all present but continuing to rehab on a side field during Thursday’s session.

Takk McKinley and Luke Stocker scuffle

On the more exciting side of things, there was apparently a pretty physical battle between EDGE Takkarist McKinley and TE Luke Stocker towards the end of practice.

File this one away under Quinn’s mantra of physicality and competition. There are pretty significant rules preventing excessive contact at OTAs, however, so Atlanta does need to be careful. We all love to see the competitive fire out there, and I’m not surprised that Takk was one of the first ones to show it. On the other hand, Stocker managing to block Takk is a pretty good sign for the free agent TE—he’s known for his blocking as both an in-line player and a FB.

Another interesting tidbit is that Takk McKinley was getting some work with the LBs, particularly at SLB.

It’s too early to draw anything from this—it’s just OTAs, after all—but it could be another way for the Falcons to scheme pressure. Takk is very athletic and could potentially make some plays from a stand-up position, particularly as a blitzer.

What are your thoughts on the early news from OTAs? How do you feel about Takk getting work at SLB? Do you think Freeman is in line for a bounce-back year after missing the majority of 2018?