Allen, Neal Growing Close:If Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal aren't on the field during team drills, odds are they're standing together on the sidelines, going over play calls and picking each other's brain. The two have become remarkably close during their short time together, and that chemistry should make a substantial difference when the regular season begins.
"It's coming along amazing," Allen said of his relationship with Neal. "Me and him, we're really close. On and off the field, we're really close. We talk about everything. We talk about football; we talk about life. It was easy to transition with him because he's a hard worker. He's smart, and he likes to play football. He's a person that never gets tired of talking about football, so I can bug him any time of the night and ask him a question, or call him to quiz him or something. And he's always ready.
"It's amazing, man, because when you get out there, you know he's going to have your back. You know that if something goes wrong, that he's going to be there. You just feel so much closer because you actually know exactly where he's going to be and what he's going to do at a certain time."
Hooper Catching Up: Austin Hooper missed a significant portion of OTAs when classes at Stanford forced him to stay in Palo Alto, Calif. Despite that, the rookie tight end has done a good job getting on track and believes he understands every play that's been put in front of him. Now, the key is to get enough reps during XFINITY® Training Camp and preseason to give him the confidence needed to perform when the games start to count.
Quinn and TE coach Wade Harman made sure Hooper stayed in the loop when he was on the West Coast, and the studying he did throughout his absence has been paying off.
"You know what? I don't feel like he's behind," Quinn said. "As hard as he worked to get up to speed – of course, you can't do anything about what he missed – but what he did do during that time, he made sure, although he wasn't going to be on the field getting reps, he was going to have to do it by himself. And he did that. It's going to be important quarters for him in the preseason – getting the looks, getting the reps. But he's off to a good start."
Budding DBs Impressing Trufant: Although Desmond Trufant is only 25 years old, his lead-by-example approach has made him the commander of Atlanta's secondary. As a budding star, he's been tasked with helping the group of young defensive backs in tow, and through a handful of practices, the Pro Bowler is satisfied with the way the Falcons' up-and-coming safeties and corners are progressing.
"They look good, man," Trufant said. "They're coming along; they're competing. I'm excited to see them out there in their first preseason game, so we're just striving towards greatness. We're getting close."
Right Guard Battle Ongoing: The competition at right guard continues to heat up. Chris Chester, Mike Person and Wes Schweitzer are getting opportunities to earn the starting job at that position and, while no one has definitively separated himself from the pack, all three have impressed Quinn thus far.
"We're trying a bunch (of combinations)," Quinn said. "After the four days, we went back, took an evaluation of everything, and so for Chester, Person, Schweitzer – all those guys have gotten reps at it. And that process is going to continue again this week; it's going to continue again all the way through the preseason. It's a battle that we're looking forward to over the next couple weeks. I'm pleased with the first week; I can tell you that."
Julio Update: For the first time since the first day of camp, Julio Jones, who suffered a muscle tweak last week, was a full participant at practice.