FLOWERY BANCH, Ga. – Minicamp is the last phase of the NFL’s offseason program.
So the next time the Falcons hit the practice fields it will be for the start of training camp and the 2019 season.
With organized team activities (OTA) complete, the players and coaching staff now have had a few weeks of getting adjusted to any new wrinkles in the offensive and defensive schemes. The newest roster additions have also now had some time to get to work their teammates as well.
Minicamp gives the Falcons one more chance to put the months of offseason work all together before summer break.
Here are some of the biggest storylines to watch at minicamp based off what we’ve learned from the past two months:
1. Who will show up?
Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones and Vic Beasley have not been in attendance during the voluntary organized team activities. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he expects all four players to be at minicamp. If a player doesn’t show up for mandatory minicamp, the maximum amount a player can be fined is $88,650, if he were to miss all three days.
2. Checking in on the first-round picks
The Falcons drafted Chris Lindstrom (No. 14 overall pick) and Kaleb McGary (No. 31 overall pick) in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with expectations they’ll help improve their offensive line. Lindstrom has been getting a lot of reps with the starting unit during organized team activities. Although it’s still early, he seems to be heavily in the mix for a starting role come September. It’s important to note Atlanta’s coaching staff uses this time to try different combinations and move guys around so nothing is set in stone at this point. Ty Sambrailo has been the starter at right tackle where McGary is expected to play. Minicamp will offer another opportunity to see how Lindstrom and McGary have progressed since being drafted at the end of April.
3. What new wrinkles have been added to the offensive and defensive schemes?
The Falcons have two different people taking over the play-calling duties this year. Quinn will handle the defensive play-calling and Dirk Koetter was hired to take the reins of the offense. The schemes, however, are not changing. What has changed are the new wrinkles and concepts the coaching staff has implemented after a thorough review of the 2019 season. Will some of them be on display during minicamp?
4. New year, new roles
A new season means new players will be given a chance to step up. Quinn often talks about the jumps players make from year-to-year, so who will those players be this year? In 2018, Austin Hooper significantly improved his game and his role evolved in Atlanta’s offense. Linebacker Foye Oluokun looks to be someone who could have a bigger role this year given the improvements he’s made in his second offseason. As does second-year cornerback Isaiah Oliver. Does anyone else standout?
5. Who’s healthy, who’s not?
After a season in which the Falcons were decimated with injury news, the Falcons were given some positive news this week. Starting strong safety Keanu Neal made his return to the field – in a very limited role –after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL in early September.
Devonta Freeman also appears to look like his explosive self after missing 16 games over the past two seasons with various injuries. Free safety Ricardo Allen is still going through the rehab process, but Quinn said it’s “more than realistic” to believe Allen and Neal will be ready to go by the start of the 2019 season.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley was held out of Thursday’s practice with a sore foot. Will he practice during minicamp?