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Falcons minicamp notes for June 13: Health, open roster spots, and versatility as camp closes

Training camp is a long ways away, but it’s the next major signpost to look forward to.

Atlanta Falcons Rookie Minicamp Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Minicamp is over, but we have notes!

Everybody’s on track for training camp

This is consistent with what’s been said all along, but I share it every time because it represents an update of sorts. Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal in particular—and Devonta Freeman and others to a lesser extent—are coming off the kind of major injuries that can come with setbacks. Every time we hear that they’ll be systems go for training camp, it suggests that they’re on track for the season opener, and a fully healthy Falcons team could be a force in 2019.

There’s still time to go before training camp, and there’s still a month after that until the season opens, so it’s not like player health is set in stone. Still, this is an encouraging note to end minicamp on.

Kendall Sheffield and Jordan Miller cross-train

The Falcons are giving their rookie cornerbacks a shot not just outside, where their length could be an asset, but also at nickel. This is not truly a surprise—we had to figure that Sheffield, at the very least, would give an opportunity given his speed and willingness to make plays on the ball—but it is worth noting.

This makes plenty of sense, because Miller and Sheffield are heading into reserve roles in their first year, and any sort of versatility can only help them see playing time. The team has three starters locked in with Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, and Damontae Kazee currently atop the depth chart. I’ll be interested to see how they fare—and where they stick—as the summer rolls on.

The Falcons have 15 openish roster spots

How many locked-in Falcons are currently on the 90 man roster? If you’re inclined to listen to Dan Quinn, who is the ultimate authority on the roster, that number stands at about 38.

It’s by no means the definitive list, but it’s fair to suggest that Quinn and company are intending to keep Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Justin Hardy, Russell Gage, Austin Hooper, Luke Stocker, Jake Matthews, Chris Lindstrom, James Carpenter, Jamon Brown, Alex Mack, Kaleb McGary, Ty Sambrailo, Takk McKinley, Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Grady Jarrett, Jack Crawford, Tyeler Davison, Deadrin Senat, Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun, De’Vondre Campbell, Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, Damontae Kazee, Kendall Sheffield, Jordan Miller, Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, Giorgio Tavecchio, Matt Bosher, and Josh Harris, given that they have 15 open spots. That leaves 52 players fighting over just over a dozen roster spots, with some obvious favorites (I’m looking at Marcus Green and Ra’Shede Hageman in particular) that could further winnow things down.

It sounds like Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff will be starting to firm up early impressions over the next month or so, which might mean we see some churn at the back end of the roster before training camp opens.

Marcus Green needs “concentration” to win returner gig(s)

Few players from this draft class intrigue me more than Green, the hyper-speedy chess piece who enjoyed productive college play at receiver, running back, and returner. In year one his role on offense is likely to be limited, but Green is a strong bet to win one of the returner jobs, given that Ben Kotwica appears to be looking for explosiveness and Green might be the most explosive option on the roster.

To get there, he just needs to show consistent concentration, per Dan Quinn. That is an extremely important trait in a returner because of the potential to fumble away a return or make a poor decision, something we’ve seen way too much of in recent years with the rather adventurous return game the Falcons have put on the field.

We’re wishing Green well in this competition.