With Russell Athletic Training Camp only a few days away, we'll begin the march to camp with "Camp 101," a daily look at what any Falcons fan should know about the team heading into the all-important period before the season. Today, we look at the five best drills you won't want to miss if you're in attendance at training camp.
5) Running backs vs. Linebackers: While there is no tackling at training camp, the running back drills where they utilize an offensive line against linebackers gives you glimpses of what linebackers can quickly diagnose and how nimble running backs can be. Sometimes it just looks like a mass of bodies, but watching a running back navigate the chaos gives you a feel for how well they can perform on Sundays when the action is real and there aren't just would-be tacklers waiting at the next cut.
4) O-line vs D-line: Often held off to the side of practice while other position groups are working on their respective skills, the O-line and D-line face off to practice pressuring the backfield while the O-line works on their defending techniques. If you can get within earshot, this is a great way to see the fiery enthusiasm of defensive line coach Ray Hamilton, one of the most talkative coaches on the staff. The collisions are real in this drill and you can watch as each side works to gain the necessary leverage to get to or defend the backfield.
3) Special teams kick blocking: Conducted by special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, the drill consists of a mat for players to dive onto and a soccer ball. Armstrong kicks the ball and the players work to get in position to block the ball with their hand while maintaining the proper technique. After the ball is blocked, they must pursue the ball. The drill is exciting because anytime a player is diving for a ball, the action is compelling. It's also a great photo opportunity.
2) Skelly: Named as such because the defensive and offensive formations are skeletons, leaving out the linemen on both sides of the ball. Essentially it's tight ends and wide receivers against defensive backs and linebackers. It's a fun drill to watch because it features passing, always a crowd favorite. You can watch tight ends work against linebackers in their formations and the variety of cornerback-wide receiver matchups that rotate onto the field. It's often where deep passing is worked on as well and there are more than a few acrobatic plays that can come from this particular drill, especially down the field.
1) 11-on-11: Also known as full-team drills, 11-on-11 is the closest you'll get to watching the kind of action you'll see in a live game. Again, although there is no tackling, there is competition at the highest level. This is when everyone has a chance to shine with all 22 players on the field. The offense runs their script and the defense has theirs and each side is trying to get the best of the other. Interceptions count here as do batted balls and the occasional strip of a ball carrier. The intensity of this drill is well above any other at a typical practice and it's when the players talk the most. It's the highlight of the practice and there a few sessions of it at each practice so you won't want to be away from the field when this one takes place.