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Falcons minicamp takeaways: Devonta Freeman sees team reaching 'another level'

Posted Jun 15, 2017

Atlanta's three-day minicamp is complete. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the final day.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons wrapped up their three-day mandatory Minicamp Built by Home Depot on Thursday, and coach Dan Quinn said he was pleased with what he saw from his team throughout the offseason program. Here are the biggest takeaways from the final day:

1. Quinn, Dimitroff 'encouraged' by direction of offseason

Dan Quinn set a goal for his team when they returned for the start of Atlanta’s offseason program in mid-April: To have the best offseason yet.

As his team breaks for the summer, Quinn was happy with how the Falcons performed.

“There was a number of things we wanted to implement as we got through the offseason,” Quinn said. “Some scheme changes -- offensively, defensively, on special teams. How do we feature some of these new players into our systems? I felt the speed out there today, I couldn’t be more encouraged.”

The Falcons’ offseason has been one full of change.

Between the coaching staff changes and new players added to the roster – adjustments would need to be made. Despite the changes, Quinn and his team has stayed true to their identity and mindset moving forward.

And it’s allowed them to accomplish what they set out do so in April.

2. Keanu Neal accomplishes offseason goal

Following a successful rookie season, safety Keanu Neal wants to get even better.

Neal took time to assess his game this offseason and set goals for what he would specifically like to improve before training camp in late July. Atlanta’s 2016 first-round pick highlighted his play in the middle of the field as an area he thinks he can be better in.

The way the Falcons feature Neal allows him to make most of his plays near the line of scrimmage. Neal understands his role and where he can best help Atlanta’s defense, but that doesn’t mean doesn’t want to continue to develop other areas of his game.

“One thing I really wanted to focus on was my middle-field work,” Neal said. “Obviously, you all see me down close to the line of scrimmage, but getting more accustomed to playing in the middle of the field, that’s one thing I’ve been really focusing on this offseason.”

Not only did Neal feel that he’s accomplished his goal, but his head coach also took note.

“Playing middle-field coverage is having range, having real vision on the quarterback,” Quinn said. “He plays so much down by the line of scrimmage that 20 percent of the time he’s back, he wanted to have part of his range in order. What I saw from him this spring was increased speed. He looks faster than he has been and that’s usually when it shows up in the middle of the field because you have such a long way to go.”

3. Freeman: Our offense can get to another level this year

The Falcons’ offense had a historically great season in 2016 and Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman thinks the group is capable of even more.

“I definitely think we can be better,” Freeman said following minicamp. “All of us. We can go to another level. We understand how to work and how to get better.”

The unit scored 540 points last year which tied the 2000 Rams for the seventh-most an NFL club has ever scored in a single season. They scored 3.23 points per drive -- per Football Outsiders, and gained 6.69 yards per play – both tops in the league.

The Falcons return nine of 11 starters from last year on offense.

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