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Five Things From XFINITY Camp: Practice 5

Posted Jul 29, 2014

After making a splash during rookie minicamp, seventh-rounder Tyler Starr is looking to carry the momentum through XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp

1. Starr Trying to Shine in Camp: Defensive end Tyler Starr's name was heard quite a bit during rookie minicamp as his motor and style of play stood out among his fellow Rookie Club members. The offseason program saw Starr blend in a bit, but he's looking to get that momentum from rookie camp going into XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp. Starr has faced adversity in his football career, redshirting his sophomore year at South Dakota and scratching his way into the NFL as the second-to-final pick in the 2014 Draft. Starr has been splitting time at defensive end and outside linebacker in camp, but said that what's being asked of him isn't anything he's not used to. Starr pointed out that Kroy Biermann has become somewhat of a mentor for him so far and he's trying to pick up as much as he can from the seven-year veteran.

2. Robertson Surprising: When thinking of the Falcons' current defensive tackles and how they can contribute in 2014, Travian Robertson may not immediately come to mind. A seventh-round pick in 2012 out of South Carolina, Robertson is putting together an impressive camp, especially since pads have gone on. Robertson finds himself routinely 4 yards in the backfield as he works mostly at the nose tackle spot these days. With the additions of Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson up front, Robertson became even more motivated to add more strength in the offseason with the heightened competition.

"I stayed here this offseason and worked with (head strength and conditioning coach) AJ (Neibel) and (assistant strength and conditioning coach) Jonas (Beauchemin) and they helped me with getting stronger and add more flexibility," Robertson said Tuesday. "That's what I was concentrating on, just trying to keep my strength and knowing how to use it the right way."

Widely considered the strongest player on the Falcons roster in the weight room, Robertson told general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith in the offseason that he was going to be dedicated to getting stronger and learning how to use that strength. He's been demonstrating exactly that during the past two days, winning more battles than he's losing against the interior offensive linemen.

3. Ryan Impressed with Freeman: Rookie running back Devonta Freeman could see more looks this preseason with Steven Jackson now out with a hamstring injury for what could be most of the preseason. Freeman had a cut move in Tuesday's practice that inspired oohs and ahhs from the Flowery Branch crowd, but there's a good chance there will be more opportunities to marvel at Freeman's athleticism. Quarterback Matt Ryan has enjoyed working with him so far and sees the potential: "He's done a nice job. He's got a lot to learn — there's no doubt about that. Every rookie has a lot on their plate, but specifically, that running back position is tough because you're asked to do so much in the run game but then also you're heavily involved in the pass game in terms of your routes. Pass protection is key from a running back, especially with his skillset. He catches the ball so well out of the backfield that I could see his role with us in the future being one that, he's in there in passing situations. ... I think it shows that he was well-coached in college."

4. Rest Comes for Falcons Wednesday: The Falcons will take the day off from the practice field Wednesday after going full-speed ahead since Friday. The team will practice again Thursday afternoon, a session open to the public beginning at 3:30 p.m., and then the Falcons will hold their annual Kia Motors Friday Night Lights practice at Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Ga.

5. Extra Notes: Smith noted that there were a lot of mistakes in practice Tuesday "structurally" but credited that to the volume of information the coaches have thrown at the team. ... LB Pat Angerer left the field with an undisclosed injury near the start of practice and did not return. Smith did not have an update on his condition. ... LB Sean Weatherspoon, out for the season with an Achilles injury, has been around the Flowery Branch complex and sitting in on meetings with the linebackers to help the younger players.


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