From the Branch

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5 Things to Know From Day 4 of Falcons Camp

Posted Jul 31, 2016

For the fourth practice of XFINITY Training Camp, the Falcons once again donned pads for a physical, hard-hitting session at Flowery Branch.

Neal Shows His Physicality: Keanu Neal made his presence felt with a number of big hits, including one on Eric Weems that drew big cheers from the fans in attendance. Atlanta’s first-round pick understands protecting his teammates is the No. 1 priority during camp — Jacob Tamme reminded him of that after a big collision between the two — but he also knows he’s here to play with an edge.

Head coach Dan Quinn was happy to see the rookie flash his aggressive nature.

“We thought that would show up once we got the pads on,” Quinn said. “That’s certainly his game. He’s got such respect from other members of the team because of his work ethic. Really, as a veteran player, what you’re looking for in a young player (is) a guy who’s got confidence, a guy who’s willing to work and a guy who keeps his mouth shut helping the team. And he epitomizes those things. All he wants to do is help the team.”

Allen Evolving into a Leader: At the other safety position, Ricardo Allen continued to make his voice heard as one of Atlanta’s leaders. His development in the past year has helped shape the Falcons’ secondary and earned him a lot of respect from his coaching staff.

“His ability to now articulate exactly the alert that could happen, a play that may happen based on a formation, the communication that happens on the field — that’s a big part of his jump,” Quinn said. “Ricardo Allen grinds. He puts it in. He’s one of the very first people here, and he puts work in. And it’s not just the weight room, it’s not just on the field. He puts work in in the meeting room. He puts work on the field. He takes care of himself. He’s a pro.

“I love to see guys going for it and he, with a number of other men here, are in that mode. They’re not backing off anything. And that’s honestly the type of competitors — the dog mentality — that we’re trying to create. He’s embraced that knowing, ‘I got to put work in.’ ”

Robinson Comes Up Big: On Saturday, Quinn mentioned Aldrick Robinson as a wide receiver competing with the likes of Mohamed Sanu and Justin Hardy. The six-year veteran, who learned Kyle Shanahan’s offense in Washington, has looked good throughout camp, making tough catch after tough catch — some of which came against Desmond Trufant. It’ll be interesting to see what he accomplishes during preseason, where he’ll likely see plenty of time on offense and special teams if Quinn wants to get a deep evaluation on him.

Beasley Gaining Comfort at SLB: Vic Beasley, Jr. spent the offseason transitioning from LEO to strongside linebacker, and with a couple of padded practices under his belt, he’s starting to feel more comfortable at his new spot. The 2015 first-round pick acknowledged the two positions are similar in a lot of ways and is confident he’ll take big strides in 2016.

“It’s been good,” Beasley said. “Thursday was kind of slow for me, but now things are coming along for me. Just trying to be the best I can be at that position. Just getting more reps. The more experience you get, the more you become familiar with the position. Experience is one of the best teachers.”

In addition to taking lots of snaps, facing off against Ryan Schraeder and Jake Matthews every day has helped Beasley. The two O-linemen gave up just three combined sacks in 2015 and can help Atlanta’s young pass-rushers learn what it takes to beat a premier pass blocker.

“It’s great. I mean, we’ve got two of the best tackles in the league,” Beasley said. “Going against both of those guys has definitely helped me become a better player.”

Julio Update: Julio Jones took part in team drills after sticking to individuals the last few practices. Quinn said the star receiver will be a full participant when the Falcons return to action Tuesday.