Arthur Blank roamed the sidelines on Thursday, keeping a close eye on the first Atlanta Falcons AT&T Training Camp practice this season. There was plenty of new out there, from general manager Terry Fontenot to head coach Arthur Smith and on down through this re-made roster.
All that brought the Falcons owner a sense of excitement and hope his team can rise out of a three-season rut of lackluster results. That sentiment doesn't stem from a single practice. It came from watching new hires work through a trying offseason while positioning the team to have success in 2021.
He can see the long-term vision being executed one day at a time.
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"I'm most excited about what's happening with Coach Smith and Terry Fontenot," Blank said in a Tuesday press conference. "All the things we anticipated, with their attention to detail, the intellect with which they're approaching the work, their ability to analyze their existing roster has been impressive.
"They've done a great job understanding the salary cap situation this year while getting vets who might not come their way. Terry has shown those abilities while in New Orleans. Coach Smith has a great mind and perspective on the game. We're excited about the first day of practice. We're excited about the season. We're as excited as we can be right now."
Blank said he feels the fans' pain, that the last few years haven't been good enough. He's an admittedly impatient man but has confidence the leaders in place can turn things around.
"The standard is high. It should be high," Blank said. "… We want to get where we need to be. We've made a lot of commitments over the years to have a competitive team. That has been our goal since I both the team in 2001. We've had a successful run, the last three years not so much. I think we have a great combination with Coach Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot."
He also understands that it may take some time to get completely right but can see things getting incrementally better.
"You look at the process, from free agency to the draft and on forward," Blank said. "Looking at it that way, we're moving in the right direction. We feel good about where we are making those changes. I feel good about where we are."
The Atlanta Falcons kicked off 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp in Flowery Branch. Here are the best images from Day 1.
2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: Dirty Birds Open Practice
WHEN: August 7th
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
TIME: 2:00 PM ET
The 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: Dirty Birds Open Practice entertainment, including cheerleaders, drumline and Atlanta Falcons Legends, will kick-off when gates open and fans are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy Mercedes-Benz Stadium's award-winning food & beverage experience offering fan-first prices.
Tickets for the open practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be $5 each and all proceeds will go to the Emory Healthcare's research and discovery programs.
Due to the current NFL protocols around COVID-19, there will not be opportunities for player autographs.
Stay tuned here for more information!