The Falcons are back in Flowery Branch for the first week of organized team activities, which began Tuesday morning.
A new culture:The environment at Flowery Branch has transformed considerably since Dan Quinn took over, and it's palpable on the field. Quinn said he doesn't want to have "clean" practices in which everything goes smoothly; instead, he wants to foster an intense atmosphere similar to what they'll experience on Sundays. So far, the players seem to be embracing this change.
"[Practice is] definitely fast," safety Charles Godfrey said. "That's what we're going to be. When people watch us, they're going to be like, 'Golly, they run. They run to the ball and they get the ball.' That's our focus; that's what we pride ourselves on. The practice speed is fast so when we get out to the game everything is slow, but we're still fast because we're used to practicing that way. It's good for us."
Applying new knowledge:After months of meetings and playbook study, the Falcons were excited to get on the field and immerse themselves in game situations.
"It takes time when you've got some new concepts and new things," Matt Ryan said. "Obviously you want to get those reps under your belt. You can work in a meeting all you want. There's nothing like getting actual reps in practice … It's a progression to each thing as you learn new concepts, but I thought it was a good start."
Embracing competition:There will be a number of intriguing position battles to monitor during training camp, and OTAs are giving us a small preview of these contests. Devonta Freeman, who will compete against rookie Tevin Coleman at running back, believes these situations help him reach his potential.
"I've been in competition my whole life — especially with great athletes, even in little league," Freeman said. "I was going to elementary class and there were guys who were real good, faster than me, stronger and bigger. I feel like it developed me. It gives me that drive knowing there's another guy just as good."
Pass rush a focus: The Falcons ran a lot of third down plays Tuesday and placed a heavy emphasis on rushing the passer. Quinn mentioned that Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn and Kroy Biermann fared particularly well during these drills.
"The big thing that we're going to preach is trying to move the quarterback off the spot. How many times can we get that quarterback to move?" Quinn added. "So the speed and the effort and the way that we come off the ball, that's some of the things that you try and implement on third down."
Injury Update:Injured players Joe Hawley (knee), William Moore (shoulder), Brooks Reed (groin), Jake Matthews (foot), Antone Smith (leg), Jalen Collins (foot) and Peter Konz (knee) were sidelined during practice. Sam Baker (knee) and Dezmen Southward (knee) rehabbed indoors.