Hageman Coming Along:As he prepares for his third year in the NFL, Ra'Shede Hageman is in the process of switching from defensive tackle to defensive end. He's been working hard to make the change, defensive line coach Bryan Cox said in June, and Quinn has seen that effort translate to the practice field.
"He's done a good job in that transition," Quinn said. "I would say right now he's playing really solid ball, and I think he's an improved player from the 2015 season based on training camp. Now we have to take it into the preseason games and allow that work to continue, but we're pleased with the start of where he's at heading into this year."
Levitre Looking Sharp: Acquired days before the 2015 opener against Philadelphia, Andy Levitre quickly became Atlanta's starting left guard despite missing an entire offseason. The veteran lineman held his own in pass protection and helped open a lot of holes in the run game. Levitre said he want to improve his discipline, however — he took 11 penalties in 2015 — and the experience gained during the summer should help him cut down on infractions.
"He looks sharp," Quinn said of Levitre. "He came in and was battling some injuries when he got here (last September), and he's had a good camp. He's really fit, he's strong, he's healthy, and for us, that's a good sign. He had some things he really wanted to work on — in the run game, specifically, some things in his sets, and he's really applied that."
Flair Fires Up the Team: Professional wrestling legend Ric Flair made his way to Flowery Branch on Tuesday and ended practice with an impassioned speech to the team, after which he dubbed Julio Jones the best wide receiver in the NFL.
"You could see the energy. He was talking with us and having some fun, and it was great to have his support," Quinn said. "You could tell he's a big fan, and we're also a big fan of his."
On the Quarterback Rotation: The Falcons currently have four quarterbacks on their 89-man roster, and the plan for Thursday night is to make sure all of them get involved, Quinn said. Expect Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub to play early so Sean Renfree and Matt Simms can take the bulk of the snaps.
Injury Update: Keanu Neal (trunk) and Terron Ward (ankle) sat out practice again, while Levine Toilolo (hand) returned in a limited fashion. Their statuses for Thursday's game remain unclear, but according to Quinn, none of their injuries are considered long-term ailments, adding that "there's nothing serious that's going to hold them (out)."