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Five Things We Learned In Camp: Day 5

Posted Jul 29, 2013

Each day of Russell Athletic Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, AtlantaFalcons.com's Daniel Cox will share five observations from his day watching and listening to all the happenings around camp.


1. Once-A-Generation Back: On one side of the Falcons' fence this year are those that think Steven Jackson could be the best free agent addition in the NFL this season. In the eyes of many, he's the perfect addition to the Falcons' offense, a dual-threat back with equally-dangerous skills as a runner and a receiver. The other side of the fence sees that Jackson turned 30 around a week ago and they point to the decline in backs after that milestone. After eight straight seasons of 1,000 yards or more, Jackson isn't quite ready to concede that 30 is the new 40 and thinks he's different from the players that define that statistic: "Typically when you see numbers like that that people are throwing out, people are throwing out averages and scenarios that they are comfortable going with because it's a trend. Like I've said before, on record, I think each and every generation has a guy that breaks the mold and I truly believe I'm the running back for this generation."

2. No Injuries Allowed: If you've spent a little time around head coach Mike Smith during training camp in the last few seasons, you'll realize quickly that he wants to avoid injuries like the plaque. His coaching staff understands this concept clearly and on Monday morning, when two members of his staff spoke to the media, they sounded very similar to Smith when discussing injuries. It's obvious Smith knows he has a talented team this season and he wants to keep it in tact. The length he's gone to avoid injuries dates back to the offseason: "We stressed that we don’t want to have anybody on the ground at the end of the play. Through the first week of OTAs we spent time showing all the plays where there were guys on the ground and showed that some of them are avoidable and some aren’t avoidable. We try to show our guys and teach our guys what we want to get done in practice."

At one point during practice on Monday, Smith demonstrated how seriously he takes this initiative. A player or two was involved in some unwanted contact and Smith shared his opinion of that kind of practicing with the player in question.

PHOTOS: See Images From Day 5 Of Camp

3. Linebacker Update: Speaking with linebacker coach Glenn Pires Monday morning, we got an update on two linebackers that most everyone has already forgotten were injured earlier in the year. Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas missed OTAs this season as they rehabbed, but they returned to the field for the minicamp in June. Pires said Nicholas and Weatherspoon are completely healthy and said the two are picking up where they left off in minicamp without missing a beat. He also shared some insight on Akeem Dent, the team's third-year middle linebacker: "He’s a lot like Sean, knowing what he’s got to improve on. Watching all that tape from last year, knowing he’s getting better and he’s really taking that approach. I’m looking for him to really take that next step and continue to improve. I’m pleased with him."

4. Good Pros: It's nice to hear that Pro Bowlers aren't getting fat and lazy after a season of success. The Falcons' safety tandem of Thomas DeCoud and William Moore experienced breakout seasons last year, but their coach, defensive backs coach Joe Danna said Monday the two continue to work to get better, recognizing that there are always aspects of their game they can improve. Danna said the two put more pressure on themselves to get better every day than any coaches.

5. Constant Training: A lot of fans have asked about the two rookies Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and for good reason. A lot of the Falcons' success on defense will rely on at least one of those two players and quite possibly both. Reports have come out of camp daily of mixed results for these two young players, but they're continuing to improve each day, despite what they're putting out on the field. As Danna said earlier in the day, life is tough when you're a rookie and things are tough for those two guys right now. But what we're also seeing a lot of is the two of them being coached, consistently. Secondary coach Tim Lewis is spending a lot of time with the two during practices each day working on the finer points of technique and understanding what is happening. They have their ups and downs, but the most encouraging thing about the two rookies is they are taking coaching well and continue to try to apply what they're learning.


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