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Falcons minicamp notes for June 11: Punt return competition, the stars return and more

It’s nice to see guys back on the field, even if it’s only for minicamp.

Atlanta Falcons Practice Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Let’s start our day with some news and notes from yesterday’s minicamp session, shall we? We shall.

Stars return, sort of

Grady Jarrett, Julio Jones, Vic Beasley, and Deion Jones were all at mandatory minicamp for the first day on Tuesday. That’s wonderful news for anyone who worried about a holdout for Jarrett or Jones, at the very least.

Unfortunately, Beasley was the only one on the field Tuesday. The veteran pass rusher had spent OTAs working on his own with Bud Dupree, but he’s back on the field and ready for an impact in a critical contract year. Jones and Jones are both rehabbing from foot injuries and may or may not see any time with the rest of the team in minicamp—I’d bet against it—but they were at least out on the field.

Jarrett, meanwhile, didn’t go out on the field but talked after minicamp about how excited he was that Dan Quinn was the coordinator, how he’s “barely scratched the surface” of what he wants to be as a player, and generally seems excited to get going this year. His contract looms over the offseason, as you’d expect, but Jarrett should be here and be great for years to come when all is said and done.

Punt return competition limited early

Last year, we weren’t clear who would be the team’s punt returner until late in the summer. This year, the Falcons may be whittling down their candidate list early.

On Tuesday, at least, only three players were back trying punt returns. The team doesn’t have a raft of logical candidates for the gig—they’re probably not going back to Justin Hardy, for example—so this may very well be the list of three candidates we’re looking at the rest of the summer. Marcus Green’s wheels make him an interesting candidate, Kenjon Barner has plenty of experience as a returner and plenty of speed in his own right, and Shawn Bane is an explosive undrafted free agent with a history of breaking long gains as a receiver. It’s nice to see new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica prioritizing speed and explosiveness here, so let’s hope this continues.

Quinn singles out young players for strong first day

As I warned earlier this week, you don’t want to get carried away with who’s doing what in minicamp, because it’s such a limited slice of time and things tend to change a lot once we get to game action. But you still should pay a little attention.

The fourth name there is actually Qadree Ollison. These names are noteworthy because they are all young, high-upside players competing for key reserve roles in 2019. Ollison could be this team’s quasi-fullback, third back, and a critical special teams blocker; Cominsky, a useful reserve defensive lineman with upside; Senat, an early-down presence next to Grady Jarrett and Tyeler Davison; and Benkert, the backup quarterback if he can somehow beat out Falcons legend Matt Schaub. There’s little doubt this football team would be better for it if all four of these guys kicked butt all summer and carried it over into the season.