Perhaps in the old days, there were enough full-speed and padded practices that a player could be beaten and pounded into learning the nuances of a playbook.
That's not the case anymore.
A day of training camp essentially consists of a walkthrough and a "padded" practice each day and the order can be determined by the coaching staff. The Falcons will run most of their full practices in the afternoon during this year's training camp.
The lack of time on the field running through plays at full-speed to allow players to learn by doing means more time has to be put in by the coaches. It's up to them to ensure the players are learning everything they need each day. Head coach Mike Smith calls them "cerebral situations" and the coaches have to make sure those situations are occurring.
"We as coaches have to be prepared to work with the guys and some guys learn differently," Smith said. "Some have got to do walkthroughs. You saw this morning we kept different groups out here in walkthroughs which are basically meetings on the field instead of showing tape and getting up on the board. It's our job as coaches to get these guys prepared. We know what the parameters are that we're working with. We've got to go out there and get them prepared."
Although the coaches will do everything they can to ensure the football intelligence of the players is high, ultimately the lack of practice time means the players have to make sure they're studying when they're on the field and doing everything they can to pick up the plays. During "cerebral situations," meetings or walkthroughs, the players have to be extra focused.
Ultimately, the players have to bring the same intensity they put forth on the field to every action off the field that involves learning how to do their job at the highest level. Maximizing their time is a critical element of their days.
"The way the Coach Smith has structured the schedule, I think we're getting the most out of the day and I think it's all about how you use the time," left tackle Sam Baker said. "If you're attention-to-detail-high in everything you're doing, you're going to get the most out of what you're doing."