1. Practice Evaluation: One day after the Falcons completed their Kia Motors Friday Night Lights practice, they returned to practice on Saturday, not in pads, back in Flowery Branch. Falcons head coach Mike Smith evaluated today's practice, saying he saw some good things, as well as areas that need to be improved.
"I thought the guys had a nice walkthrough this morning and I thought it was a spirited practice," Smith said. "Again, the effort has been outstanding; we've been putting a lot of work into our installation and we've got to get that refined. We're continuing to have mental errors and mistakes, but those should be reduced as we go through this second time of our installation."
2. Dwight Lowery Update: The Falcons safety walked off the Archer High School football field Friday night, following a hit with Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers. After today's practice, Smith offered an update on Lowery's health:
"Dwight, as I said last night, had an injury to his head and he's in the concussion protocol, just like LB Pat Angerer, so he'll start that process," Smith said. "We don't think it's very serious, but that's where he is right now."
During Lowery's absence, Smith said the team has players on the roster who can cross-train, including some cornerbacks working at the safety position, which is nothing out of the ordinary, when needing to decide upon the 53-man roster.
"Robert McClain played some in there (safety) and Ricardo Allen played some in there in today's practice," Smith said. "We're going to start cross-training some of these guys, earlier than we normally do, but when you put your 46-man roster together, you have to start putting together contingency plans, and the same thing, some of those safeties are going to have to line up and play some corner for us in case we get down in that position as well."
3. Tyson Jackson's Impact: The Falcons signed DE Tyson Jackson in the offseason, doing so for multiple reasons, including his skills, experience and leadership. Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said Jackson's ability to teach is also a huge benefit to the team, helping younger players like rookie Ra'Shede Hageman.
"Hageman can learn from Tyson and learn a lot," Nolan said. "Tyson is a very intelligent player and he’s got great communication skills and that helps the young guys, behind him."
4. A Focus on Special Teams: Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong is well aware of the talent his group has in 2014, including all-world return man (and WR) Devin Hester, who signed with the team in the offseason. However, Armstrong says his guys can't just rely on Hester's skills for success, but instead must develop as a group to create more TD-scoring opportunities in 2014.
"It’s imperative that we develop our guys and they understand that we’re all in this thing," Armstrong said. "It’s going to take the group; it’s not going to be let’s let them punt the ball and we just say, ‘Okay Devin, let’s see what you got’ it doesn’t work that way. It’s very important that the guys develop and come along and one of the drills we did tonight lends to that, return-wise. Obviously, it’s and emphasis and the core group has got to come along in coverage and in the return game."
5. Bernard Reedy's Rise: The rookie WR continues to raise eyebrows, doing so from the very beginning of XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp. Not only did Reedy shine in 1-on-1 drills at the Kia Motors Friday Night Lights practice, but Armstrong says his special teams play is also attention-grabbing.
"Reedy, the little receiver, has done a nice job for us," Armstrong said. "He gives great effort. I like his heart, his want-to; he’s got that right attitude; those would be the two guys right now that if you said, ‘right off the top of your head, pick two guys that you’d think would make an impact for you. Both (WR Reedy and LB Prince Shembo) are run-hit guys, both tough guys that want to do."