Five Things From Day 1 of Minicamp

Posted Jun 17, 2014

Second-year cornerback Robert Alford was the standout player of the day as the Falcons opened veteran minicamp at Flowery Branch on Tuesday, plus four more observations

1. Standout Player of the Day: The award for the first day of Falcons veteran minicamp goes to second-year cornerback Robert Alford, who showed ridiculous athleticism and speed during the day's team period. Alford has high expectations placed on him for 2014 and he's showing flashes of a player who has grown since his rookie year. He had three pass breakups during team period, one of which came against speedy undrafted free agent wide receiver Bernard Reedy who got out ahead of Alford on a deep pass. Alford closed the gap and broke up the long pass from Matt Ryan. "I thought Robert Alford made some phenomenal plays," head coach Mike Smith said after Tuesday's session. "You got a chance to see his speed and his quickness and his ability to recover. There was guys that were open and, when the ball was in the air, he seemed to run faster than the other guy."

2. Roddy Out During Minicamp: Wide receiver Roddy White won't be participating in minicamp as a precautionary measure, Smith said. White was out on the field and engaging with his teammates during Tuesday's practice, but he didn't run routes or do any work at his position. Smith said he'll be ready to go during training camp.

3. Speedy Reedy: Falcons fans in attendance during Tuesday's sessions saw No. 89 streaking down the field and probably checked their rosters twice for him. The 5-foot-9 undrafted wideout from Toledo — Bernard Reedy — made himself known and largely looked like a blur most of the day as he tested out the Falcons cornerbacks. He had the aforementioned play broken up by Alford, but earlier in the practice, he caught a long pass from Ryan in the corner of the end zone and hung on for the score. Shortly after, he channeled his inner Willie Mays with an over-the-shoulder catch down the middle of the field over Kemal Ishmael. Smith said that if undrafted rookies want a chance to impress the Falcons coaching staff, now's the time. "We've had 10 practices underneath our belt and these guys have gone through what we've been doing and have a good feel for it, so my big point from our guys from the very beginning is that it's going to be all about competition," Smith said. "We're going to compete and to me that's the most important thing."

4. Replacing Tony: One of the big storylines that's been discussed this offseason is how the Falcons will go about replacing Tony Gonzalez. Smith and Ryan have each said that you can't possibly replace him. Ryan has said that even Gonzalez's heir apparent Levine Toilolo won't be asked to do the same things as Gonzalez. White was asked Tuesday about replacing the future Hall-of-Fame tight end and the wideout said he'd be doing his part to pick up the slack: "I don't think it'll be too much different. We'll probably stay in a lot of three wideout, four-wideout sets. We lost Tony, but we've got Harry (Douglas). We've got Devin Hester, and those guys are really quick, fast, can-make-you-miss guys."

5. Difference in Douglas: Thrust into the spotlight last year when White spent significant time recovering from an ankle injury and Jones went down in the first quarter of the season with a foot injury, Douglas used 2013 as a year to grow into a bit bigger role. The first 1,000-yard season of his career served as a learning experience and one that has helped build confidence as he enters a season with White and Jones back in the fold. "Every game, I think Harry Douglas got better as a football player," White said. "It was great to see him go out there ane make a lot of plays and kinda put the team on his back. ... All that confidence he grew being the No. 1 guy just going out there and just handling his business and going over 1,000 yards and catching 80 balls and all that, that was great for our offense."

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