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Falcons training camp notes and quotes, Day 3

Here’s everything you should know from the Falcons’ first padded practice of camp.

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

The sun was out and the pads were on when the Falcons took the field in Flowery Branch, Ga. for Day 3 of training camp.

Dan Quinn said on Tuesday that the team would have its first padded practice on Day 3, but that they’d ease into and not spend the entire time in pads. Because the Falcons will kick off the preseason against the Broncos in the Hall of Fame game next week, they get some extra practice time leading into the season. That gave them the flexibility to work up to full practices in pads.

Our own Kevin Knight joined me at training camp again on Wednesday, and he’ll share some deeper analysis of what we saw on Day 3 later today. Right now, here are some notes and some quotes from Wednesday.

Notes from Day 3

  • Dan Quinn mentioned that he was excited about the communication on defense and that it would continue to be an emphasis. Well, there was nothing but chatter when the players were in pads on Wednesday, so that emphasis is working. It seemed to add to the defense’s intensity, too, which was high.
  • It’s been really interesting to see Foye Oluokun’s development as a leader. He was very vocal, just like Quinn has encouraged, and at one point he even pushed a teammate into the right spot in the formation.
  • At one point, Kevin and I were joking that Russell Gage was getting every target. Then, seriously, Russell Gage was targeted again. His chemistry with Ryan seems to be excellent, and he is one of the standouts so far.
  • Julio Jones ran a few easy routes and caught some balls from Ryan. He looked fine; he didn’t seem to be favoring his foot at all. As usual, the team is going to take extreme precautions to make sure he’s ready to go for the season, which is wise.
  • Um, this happened:
  • It’s still weird to see Dirk Koetter and Mike Mularkey back on this particular practice field.
  • It was a much bigger crowd Wednesday, not that I can blame anyone for not wanting to sit through a torrential downpour on Tuesday. If you made it to camp on Wednesday, I’m sincerely happy for you. It was the most perfect July camp weather I can recall in some time.

Quotes from Day 3

  • Dan Quinn said they won’t rush Julio back, but he thinks the star wideout could be “about two weeks away” from getting back on the field.
  • Julio said the team is “letting me go at my pace to get back to full speed.” He said that he’s “getting better every day.” What Julio’s waiting for is to comfortably be able to make full-speed cuts, and he’s going to take his time to avoid setbacks.
  • With nine years together in Atlanta, Matt Ryan and Julio shouldn’t have any issues getting their timing and chemistry down even though Julio’s not fully participating in camp. “Yeah, timing is not an issue anymore,” Julio said. “I know where Matt wants me to be at, and I know I need to get there.”
  • It’s really difficult to evaluate either line in shorts and helmets, so the first day with pads was an opportunity to take a closer look at those units. “It’s a better evaluation for the big guys,” Quinn said. “For the offensive linemen, for the defensive linemen, pass protection, pass rush, certain things that you can’t do (when you’re not) in pads and you can in pads. So, that was the big part of what the teaching was today.”
  • Quinn also had some high praise for three rookies: Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary, and John Cominsky. “... The three of them have like a grinder work ethic,” Quinn said. “That’s what you like from the big guys inside. They know it takes work, especially when the padded part starts. This is where it counts the most for them.”

The Falcons are back at it on Thursday for Day 4 of training camp. Quinn said that the team will follow a similar format to Day 3, with the players practicing in pads for only part of the time. After Thursday, Quinn expects any padded work to last for entire practices.