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Camp takeaways: D.J. Tialavea changing positions; Grady Jarrett leading D-line charge

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The seventh practice of the AT&T 2017 Atlanta Falcons Training Camp is over with and it's looking more and more like the players are settling into a preseason groove.


With the team's first exhibition game still a week away (it's Aug. 10 down in Miami), and the excitement of having football back slowly fading, it would only be natural to worry about a lack of focus or energy.

The Falcons, however, have experienced none of that.

To keep things fresh, coach Dan Quinn said they broke the team up into two squads to compete against each other, and he believes his players "answered the bell" after being challenged to take it up a notch.  

Let's dive into the takeaways from Thursday's practice.

1. Why Tialavea is moving from tight end to O-line

The Falcons have had an internal trade of sorts. D.J. Tialavea has officially swapped positions from tight end to offensive lineman, and his jersey number will now be 74 instead of 86. Now entering his fourth season in the NFL, Tialavea was among the more reliable blockers that Atlanta had at tight end, but the position is an extremely crowded one for the Falcons.

Now, the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder will try his hand at blocking full time. Speaking with reporters after practice, Quinn explained that the move was agreed upon by both parties.

"It is something that he and I had discussed previously, and he really wants to give it a shot," Quinn said. "I thought: the earlier, the better. So we can take it a few weeks and see where it goes. Today was his first day in the meetings and the walkthrough last night, and so today was his first access.

"I think in the run game it will be familiar, it's one spot in from tight end and he'll know a good bit of the calls. The challenge will be in the pass protection, a smaller portion of the job at tight end."

Tialavea has just one reception in his career, but it's certainly a memorable one. Against the Carolina Panthers on Christmas Eve last season, he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass to give the Falcons a 20-3 lead in the eventual victory.

2. Heading into Year 3, Jarrett 'tries to lead the charge'

Listening to coach Quinn this preseason, there is a constant belief that he often circles back to: A player can make an incremental jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and another sizeable jump from Year 2 to Year 3.

We saw that type of uptick in production from players like Vic Beasley and Tevin Coleman last season, and Grady Jarrett's three-sack performance in the Super Bowl may have signaled the same sort of awakening. Now that he's entering his third season, Jarrett is a player who Quinn has spoken very highly of during training camp.

"He's one of the guys we've been talking about when you go from Year 2 to Year 3," Quinn said. "Early on, you kind of know your assignment, but you don't really know the nuances of the call. So now that you understand what the call is -- OK, on this call I know where my help is, I may be able to take a chance to do that – he's getting better as a pass-rusher, as well.

"I love the combination of players inside: him, (Dontari) Poe, (Jack) Crawford, (Ra'Shede) Hageman. That group, they're pushing one another -- inside, especially. He's the one that tries to lead the charge, and it's that way every day. That's one of the things, that consistency of getting it on every day, that I really respect about him."

To watch all of Quinn's Thursday post-practice interview, click here.

3. Goodwin has 'jumped out' at cornerback

Quinn's notion of improvement through experience early in a player's career can also be applied to one who is learning a new position. Such is the case with C.J. Goodwin. A former wide receiver, Goodwin began a transition to cornerback last season.

Goodwin played in 14 games last year with one start at the position for Atlanta and recorded 17 tackles while earning two pass defenses. Those stats don't jump off the page, but Goodwin, himself, has really stood out in training camp.

"One other corner that has jumped out to me, so far -- and I thought he was making progress last year -- is C.J. Goodwin," Quinn said. "For sure, he's one that we counted on. He really made the team as a special teams player first. And then, through injuries, he and Jalen (Collins) really jumped in quickly, and both of them answered the bell.

"Goodwin, to me, is going -- I know he's going into a third year, technically, in the NFL -- but it's his second year as a defensive player. So I'm hopeful that jump that we've talked about, going from Year 1 to Year 2, that's the jump that I hope he'll make."

4. Quinn 'proud and happy' for Jason Taylor's Hall of Fame enshrinement

Stepping away from Falcons training camp for a second, the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the Class of 2017 will take place this Saturday. Former Atlanta Falcons kicker Morten Andersen is one of the seven members of the class, and he is joined by former Miami Dolphins great Jason Taylor.

Quinn was Taylor's position coach when he was with the Miami Dolphins from 2005-06, during which the defensive end had two of the most productive seasons of his career.

"(I'm) just so proud and happy for him and his family," Quinn said when asked about his former player. "I wish I could describe the competitor that he is, and he taught me a lot as a coach. So my two years with him (in Miami), I learned a great deal on pass rush and mindset -- things that I still use today -- from watching him and studying him and how to motivate him. He's a very special player."

For his career, Taylor recorded 774 tackles, 139.5 sacks, 48 forced fumbles, eight interceptions and nine touchdowns.

5. Highlights: French receiver Dable makes sweet one-handed grab

The play of Thursday's practice session belongs to a Frenchman. Anthony Dable, who became a star in the German Football League, showed off his range and hands by making a one-handed, back-shoulder catch against rookie defensive back Jarnor Jones (click on the link to watch).

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