FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons will begin their offseason workout program on April 15 and head coach Dan Quinn named five players he'll be keeping a close eye on over the next three months.
Outside of the players returning from season-ending injuries including Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, Devonta Freeman and Brandon Fusco, Quinn has zeroed in a couple guys he wants to ensure make the most of the offseason program.
On the offensive side of the ball, Quinn wants to see tackle Jake Matthews continue to improve. Matthews earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl after his consistent performance in the 2018 season. Matthews' play was a bright spot for an offensive line that allowed 42 sacks on Matt Ryan and finished as the No. 27th ranked rushing unit.
Calvin Ridley is another player Quinn wants to see continue to develop on offense. Ridley, Atlanta's first-round draft pick in 2018, set a franchise record for most touchdowns as a rookie with 10. He proved the type of weapon he can be in the Falcons' offense from Day 1 and the hope is now with a year of NFL experience, he can be even better. Quinn often talks about the jump players can make from Year 1 to Year 2 and he's hopeful that will be the case for Ridley.
On the defensive side of the ball, Quinn is expecting defensive ends Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley to have a "fantastic" offseason. Beasley and McKinley combined for 12 of Atlanta's 37 sacks in 2018. That's an area the Falcons want improved in 2019 and with improved play from McKinley and Beasley and Dan Quinn calling the defense, it certainly seems feasible.
Isaiah Oliver is expected to start at cornerback opposite of Desmond Trufant and similar to Ridley, Quinn is expecting to see Oliver's play improve given the experience he was able to get in his first season with the Falcons. Oliver played in 14 games in his rookie season and started two of them. He recorded 23 tackles and made one interception.
The offseason workout program consists of three phases:
Phase One is limited to strength and conditioning work only for the first two weeks.
Players can make their way to the practice fields in Phase Two which starts with on-field workouts for the next three weeks that includes individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a "separates" basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
Phase Three is when the Falcons will have 10 days of OTAs (organized team activity). No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.