The Falcons are in relatively good shape at the moment, he wrote cautiously while throwing salt over his shoulder, and that’s good because we’re hurtling toward the 2020 NFL season. That doesn’t mean every single player on the roster is hurtling ahead full speed, though.
In remarks on Wednesday, Dan Quinn said the Falcons are going to hold three veterans back a bit in practice, though he wasn’t super specific about why. It’s not hard to figure out why these three specific players are going to be limited, but it’s worth taking a moment to point out which three we’re talking about.
Dan Quinn says they could plan to limit Todd Gurley, Keanu Neal and Alex Mack for different reasons and various amounts throughout camp.— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) August 12, 2020
Gurley’s obvious, because he’s going to be the team’s feature back and the Falcons need to ensure they can get a full, high-quality season out of him. I’m hopeful the arthritis concerns will be overblown, but Gurley hardly needs a whole bunch of practice to do his thing at a high level either way, so some limits are legitimate. Some of that will carry over into the regular season, but we’re still hoping for a major workload from Gurley, with Ito Smith and the group mixing in as needed.
Neal is recovering from his second major injury in two seasons and the team is probably just bringing him along slowly, which also makes perfect sense. Neal’s ability to recover from major injury is nothing short of astounding, but limiting him a bit in practice so he can start Week 1 is the best course of action for the team. Damontae Kazee can and will start if Neal isn’t ready for the first week of the season, but Neal is such a difference maker when he’s healthy and this defense needs him.
Mack is just getting older. He’s still one of the best centers in the NFL, but Father Time takes a little more out of us every year, and keeping Mack fresh for the 2020 season is also critically important given that there’s potentially going to be a lack of experienced players all around him. This might be his last season in Atlanta, so I hope it’s a great one, and limiting a man who definitely doesn’t need much practice can only help there.
We’ll see just how limited these players are, but as long as they’re healthy and playing at a high level in 2020 during what I sincerely hope is a full NFL season, it doesn’t really matter to those of us at home.