Intensity Picking Up: The NFL offseason can feel especially long, and while OTAs and minicamps are always important, the mood is relatively low key. That will change on Friday. When the pads go on, players battling for their jobs will ramp up the intensity. There will be skirmishes; a brawl or two is inevitable. And it will feel like football is truly back.
Start of a New Era: On Friday, Dan Quinn's first season with the Falcons officially gets underway. Training camp is always more captivating when a new head coach takes over, and this year should be no different. Quinn has compiled a large staff — similar to the size of Pete Carroll's — which includes plenty of established football minds. With the new coaches come new playbooks, schemes and approaches. Fans who come to Flowery Branch will receive an interesting peak at all these chances.
Julio Jones: Julio Jones' contract situation has yet to be cleared up, but as he previously mentioned, the star receiver doesn't plan on holding out. This means we'll be treated to his usual array of highlight reel moves — inarguably one of the most entertaining parts of training camp. One-on-one drills will be appointment viewing
New Faces: The Falcons added a lot of key players this offseason — many of whom will jump right into starting roles. Vic Beasley Jr., drafted eighth overall, will garner plenty of attention throughout camp; other defenders such as free agent acquisitions Justin Durant and Brooks Reed will be under the microscope, as well. There may be several intriguing additions made over the next few weeks, and adding more players would only make competitions more fascinating.
Return of Injured Players: A number of players who finished last season on injured reserve are scheduled to be active for camp. This list includes offensive linemen Jake Matthews and Joe Hawley. Matthews, now entering his second year, is recovering from a Lisfranc foot ailment that nagged him for much of 2014; Hawley is on the mend from a season-ending knee injury he suffered last September. How those two recover in 2015 will have a signifianct impact on Atlanta's chances to return to playoff action. Safety William Moore and Antone Smith are also on track to return.