Tuesday’s weather in Flowery Branch, Ga., was abysmal. The torrential rain is something a dome team doesn’t often have to worry about. But the Falcons spent the entire practice period outside fighting through the weather, because Dan Quinn wants to take every opportunity to ensure his team is fully prepared.
“We know we’re going to play a lot of games indoors. But whatever it is, that’s what we needed for that day,” Quinn said. “On this day, we needed the rain work. You don’t know when that’s going come, so when you have those choices to get it, I think it’s better to do it.”
The plus side was that it wasn’t a billion degrees for a change, and that was just fine with Matt Ryan.
“It was pretty nice today,” Ryan said. “A little bit of rain in the morning, a tittle bit cooler weather, overcast — it’s not typical Flowery Branch, Ga. for July. So I think everybody was appreciative of that.”
Here’s everything you need to know from Day 2’s sloppy, soaked, but much cooler practice.
There’s a significant competition at left guard
Heading into training camp, only three of the five positions on the OL appeared to be solidified. LT Jake Matthews and C Alex Mack were the two returning starters, and rookie Chris Lindstrom appeared to have taken control of the RG battle throughout OTAs and minicamp. The two remaining spots are far from settled. While Ty Sambrailo is getting the majority of the first team reps at RT, Kaleb McGary is a high draft pick with serious talent.
Meanwhile, at LG, the Falcons are having a full-blown battle between the two major free agent additions: James Carpenter and Jamon Brown. Carpenter received the bulk of the starting reps earlier in the offseason, but it was Jamon Brown who started at LG with the first team today. Carpenter and Brown both got plenty of reps with the starters throughout practice, and it seems like this battle will continue for some time. We’ll continue to monitor this competition throughout training camp.
Marcus Green is officially a WR
Despite being drafted as a RB and being listed as such on the official Falcons roster, rookie Marcus Green worked out exclusively with the WRs during Day 2 of training camp. He also got extensive work at both punt and kick returner, showing off his impressive athleticism in the process.
Here's a kickoff return rep from rookie WR Marcus Green. pic.twitter.com/BqcCSO23JY— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) July 23, 2019
Green also got plenty of opportunities with the second-team offense, showcasing some smooth hands and impressive route running.
Matt Schaub to rookie WR Marcus Green. Crisp route and quick feet. pic.twitter.com/ZNRhJBIKwV— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) July 23, 2019
There’s a pretty significant competition at WR this season, but Green has the versatility and athletic ability to make a strong case for the WR5/6 role at the bottom of the roster.
The secondary balled out today
The defense—and the secondary in particular—had a tremendous day, particularly in creating takeaways. Rainy conditions led to plenty of tipped balls, which safety Sharrod Neasman took advantage of for a nice interception.
Sharrod Neasman with a pick off a tipped ball. pic.twitter.com/dF98xtK3eN— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) July 23, 2019
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson also stole a football out of the hands of Justin Hardy on another impressive play, and DB Taveze Calhoun nearly had another interception on a tip drill. Both Isaiah Oliver and Desmond Trufant had excellent reps in coverage and a couple of nice pass breakups. For a unit that had plenty of question marks heading into the offseason, Atlanta’s secondary looked mighty impressive on Day 2 of training camp.
The Falcons will ease into padded practices
Dan Quinn opened his post-practice presser with an update on what the things he was most pleased about after reviewing the team’s Day 1 performance.
“Offensively, there ended up being one penalty, no turnovers, ended up on two minute on the first day — to see the guys dial into that space, that was impressive,” Quinn said. “Defensively, we made a big push on communications, and a lot of it at the line of scrimmage prior to — and some of the very best team defenses play that way, where communication at the line — linebacker to linebacker, d-line to linebacker, and on and on down the line.”
The Falcons will face off against the Broncos in the Hall of Fame game on Thursday, Aug. 1, which means they’ve got an extra week of preseason. Because of that, Quinn is taking extra precautions and easing players into padded practices, which will begin on Day 3.
“And then we came back out today in a similar format, and then we’ll start our padded portions of practice beginning tomorrow and really be working doing acclimation for that,” Quinn said. “We’ll probably do a quarter, half the practice in pads, and after that — we can kind of even build up into that — and then in hopes of the next two days of just blocks in pads and get a better look at some of the things we need to do.”
Quinn also noted that the data shows that most players who get injured during training camp suffer those injuries on the first or second day of padded practice. With an extended preseason, easing players into padded work will hopefully help keep the Falcons healthy.
Matt Ryan would be OK with just two preseason games
Don’t take that to mean that he has any kind of issue with playing five this season. Ryan sees the extra time on the practice field as an benefit.
“You have an opportunity to get some more practice time, some more time on the field with your guys in your unit, I think that makes you a better football team. So I really view it as an advantage for us,” Ryan said.
When asked about the possibility of an 18-game regular season, Ryan said it’s something he hasn’t given much thought to, though the main considerations for players would be what it would look like for them in terms of the offseason and preseason. When asked what he thinks about the preseason as it currently stands, Ryan was honest.
“I mean, obviously, I don’t play in all of them,” he said, earning a laugh from reporters.
“It doesn’t affect me as much as some other guys,” Ryan continued.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reminded Ryan that the league used to feature six exhibition games each year.
“Four is better than six,” Ryan said.
But could teams get ready with just two preseason games?
“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” Ryan said. “I think that for a lot of the starters, two is really what you end up playing, and we’re usually very well prepared going into the season.”
Welcome to Atlanta, Allen Bailey
New Falcons defensive lineman Allen Bailey was not at practice on Tuesday. He was still finalizing his paperwork, and the team hopes to be able to ease him into practice since Bailey remained unsigned until Monday and did not participate in any official offseason program. Quinn said what the team loved about him is his versatility and his attitude.
“And then on the new addition, Allen, he’s somebody we’ve had our eye on for some time. He’s got versatility of defensive end and defensive tackle,” Quinn said. “You’ve been harping on me for quite a while to get a Bulldog here, so I think that factored into it as well.”
Bailey, of course, is from Georgia, though he went to Miami. As someone who is often on the receiving end of “why don’t the Falcons ever sign Bulldogs?” questions, though, I thought it was funny.
Quinn said that Bailey has similar traits to several other free agents the team’s locked in on lately.
“His toughness, his attitude, the edge that he would bring to our club is something that we really coveted and wanted, and much like (Adrian Clayborn) and Luke Stocker and some others that we’ve added that have that kind of mindset as well, and James Carpenter — Allen fits into that mold as well,” Quinn said.