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Rich McKay: Falcons slowly settling in at Flowery Branch, Mercedes-Benz Stadium won’t open until June

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Normalcy will be slow to return, but the Falcons are trying to get there.

Atlanta Falcons v Houston Texans Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

This week, the Falcons were able to return to Flowery Branch. That doesn’t mean Dan Quinn is somewhere clapping and barking at the defense—though he may be from the comfort of his home—but it does mean the closest thing to normal we’re likely to see is on the way.

In a conversation with local media on Tuesday, McKay touched on the team slowly bringing staff back, having five players (unnamed ones, at that) rehabbing in the facility, and more. The upshot is that all appears to be going smoothly extremely early on, the Falcons aren’t going to think about opening the stadium until June 1 or later.

If all goes well, it does sound Atlanta will be bringing more and more people back into the building in the coming weeks. It’s not clear when players and coaches will be able to be there, however, as we edge closer to when training camp is supposed to start.

McKay did sound upbeat about this football team being ready for the actual football part when it arrives. From Kelsey Conway’s story, linked above:

“I think guys will be in better shape than you think,” McKay said. “It will take a little while and we must do it safely. We need days to ramp up, we need days to take our time and getting these guys up to speed. I think the union will be very cognizant of that and so will we. The difference will be to get up to football shape and playing speed yes that does take time.”

None of this is groundbreaking stuff, but if you’re eager to see actual NFL football, it’s all necessary to getting there. If teams can bring staff back and keep everyone healthy, they can at least start thinking about getting players and coaches back and prepared for the season. It all comes down to how quickly players can get up to speed, as McKay alludes to

The one topic McKay did not address in detail was something of interest to most fans, which is whether fans will actually be in NFL stadiums this season. McKay wisely ducked that one, given that so much could change in the next few months, but my early expectation is that there will be limited attendance or zero fans in Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the season kicks off. As is often the case, I hope to be wrong about that one.