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Camp report: Why Matt Bergeron relishes opportunities to face Grady Jarrett, David Onyemata 

The Clark Phillips III, Drake London rivalry continues, Desmond Ridder impressive yet again and Slade Bolden makes play of the day

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Matt Bergeron hasn't played guard very long. Just one Senior Bowl practice, an offseason program and five camp workouts to this point. There isn't time to slow the transition down, not with Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata looming across the line of scrimmage.


The career tackle and second-round NFL Draft pick and been elevated to the first team due to a Matt Hennessy injury setback, but he isn't worried about a tough assignment. Bergeron relishes the opportunity to go up against those guys, believing that it'll accelerate his learning curve.

"It's a good thing for me and my career," Bergeron said after Monday's practice.

Bergeron is trying to improve at a steady rate, competing like heck against some of NFL's best interior defensive linemen while learning how to play guard and fit in with a stout offensive front known for its physicality and precision.

"As a rookie, it's important to have the mindset that, whenever your name gets called, you have to go in there and play fast," Bergeron said. "That's something I've tried to do and I feel like I have gotten better as the days go by. I'm trying to step in and do my job and give 100 percent effort. We'll see where that takes me."

Head coach Arthur Smith has said you can feel Bergeron's strength at guard. He's obviously not going to get every rep right while learning and applying new techniques, but progress is the goal. Not perfection at this stage.

"I feel like, in our style of offense, I've got to be more aggressive," Bergeron said. "At tackle I could be a little more patient, but I need to be better. I'm improving in my technique and the way that I'm processing information in the playbook and what I'm seeing from the defense. I'm picking up on stuff and am better making split-second decisions."

Such growth is important, especially while working with the first unit. Bergeron's in a position battle with Hennessy and any chance to show he belongs with the starters is a bonus. He's trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible from the veterans, especially an elite talent like Chris Lindstrom.

He has been open to helping Bergeron with some technical refinement, which is a great resource for someone making a position switch at the professional level.

"It's about talking to him and giving feedback," Lindstrom said. "There are all types of small things that come up to help him with, too. You may have a rule but applying it on the field may involves elements that you only learn with experience. You talk with him about how we want to execute and how we want to fit it between him and the center or him and the tackle and try to work through it. He has done a great job of keeping an opening mindset and trying to grow every day."

Clark Phillips III, Drake London rivalry continues

Drake London and Clark Phillips III have been going at it since their college days, when the receiver was at USC and the cornerback was a Utah. They've had some intense exchanges in the past, and they've heated up a few times in this training camp.

Phillips has gotten the best of London at times, especially with a high-pointed interception despite being much shorter than his counterpart. Today's clash when to London, with the 6-foot-5 receiver going sky high to pluck a touchdown catch from Desmond Ridder in one-on-one drills that ultimately meant the defense had to do pushups.

London then punted the ball into the crowd in celebration, yet another sign that these matchups mean a little more than your average practice rep.

Phillips, for one, appreciates the opportunity to go up against him.

"It's fun.," Phillips said. "It dates back to college and is one of those things that is an every-day back and forth. Of course, we're getting better because of it. I don't plan on stopping it any time soon.

"…Every day he brings something new. It's really us playing chess out there. He brings a component to the game that a lot of dudes don't have. That's why it's so much fun going against him."

What stood out

Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder is warming up a little bit as training camp progresses. He had a solid Saturday in front of a massive crowd and stayed hot coming out of an off day. He was precise and decisive in 7-on-7 drills and full team drills. That's a plus for an offense that has potential to be dynamic if it gets quality quarterback play. WR Slade Bolden made a terrific grab in the end zone despite sticky coverage from Darren Hall. RB Bijan Robinson did more Bijan things on Monday, with solid footwork that got Kaden Elliss off track and became a big play. … DL Zach Harrison continues to stand out in practice – something Arthur Smith mentioned in his press conference – and had an excellent rep against Tyler Vrabel in one-on-one pass rush drills. … Cordarrelle Patterson is earmarked to be the Falcons kick returner, but Smith said they'll let the punt returner competition play out over the preseason, with games and joint practices in Miami. … Monday was the first practice in pads, starting a run of them this week, the last without a preseason game.

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