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5 Things We Learned at Friday Night Lights

Posted Aug 5, 2016

A packed house at Grayson High School watched a high-paced Falcons practice that included big performances from several rookie players

Injury Update: RB Tevin Coleman (foot) participated in a limited fashion after sitting out the last two practices. CB Desmond Trufant suffered a hip injury, according to head coach Dan Quinn, and didn’t participate at Grayson High School for the team’s annual Kia Motors Friday Night Lights.

Fuller Comes Through Again: Friday night’s practice concluded with a touchdown pass from Matt Simms to Devin Fuller, marking the second time in the last three practices that Fuller ended a drill with a TD grab. Quinn recently said the next few weeks would be important for Fuller’s development, and he’s been making a good case for himself as preseason approaches — on offense and at kick returner.

Hooper Shines: Another rookie who impressed in the passing game was Austin Hooper, the rookie out of Stanford. The first-year tight end made a number of impressive catches Friday, including a long reception that was made possible thanks to his ability to exploit zone coverage. He also looked good inside the 20, where Atlanta has worked hard to improve throughout training camp.

“We knew Hoop, coming out (of college), we knew that was going to be a part of his game,” Quinn said of his value in the red zone. “And it’s nice to see some of that timing coming together. We’ve worked hard in the red zone — both offensively and defensively — in this camp. It’s an emphasis on both sides of the ball. … We’ve been putting the work in and that’s not going to stop.”

Collins Comes Up Big: CB Jalen Collins has had himself a strong training camp, and that continued Friday. Quinn has lauded the way the second-year cornerback has been finishing plays, and during an early 11-on-11 drill, that quality was present at Grayson: After the receiver he was covering gained separation and caught his QB’s eye, Collins made up a lot of ground in the last two seconds and was able to tip the pass, which was intercepted by safety Robenson Therezie.

Goodwin Makes Noise: With Trufant sidelined, C.J. Goodwin got plenty of reps at cornerback with the first-team defense. He took advantage of that opportunity, picking off Matt Schaub in the end zone when matched up against Hooper. The wide receiver-turned-defensive back, who stands at 6-foot-3, has earned praise from Atlanta’s coaching staff and should be an interesting project for the team.

“We know that Goodwin has the ball skills, and we’re anxious to see him into this preseason,” Quinn said. “He’s got length, he’s got speed, so he’s got some of the prerequisites. He does not look out of place playing defensive back. … Marquand (Manuel) especially has done a good job training him. So we’re pumped to see where he can go over these next few weeks.