FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – For seemingly the first time this week there wasn't major news coming from the Falcons, but that certainly doesn't mean things aren't happening.
The team held its second practice of 2018 AT&T Training Camp on Saturday and there were a couple of notable players who were nicked up – defensive end Takkarist McKinley and rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley – although head coach Dan Quinn said he didn't believe it was anything too serious at this point.
"McKinley and Ridley [got pulled from practice at the end]," Quinn said. "First report is nothing serious for us. I'll give you a better update tomorrow, but it looks like a minor precaution as opposed to anything to get worried about."
Falcons are looking for 'little bits of specialization'
At this point of the year, NFL teams are trying to find out what they have in many of the players who are at their camps. One of the ways the Falcons are approaching this is to try players out in different spots and roles than they may have had in the past to see what they can and can't do.
"Situations, that's what this time of year is for, we keep working that hard," Quinn said. "We're trying to find little bits of specialization for players, so you may see a guy in a new spot to see if that's something that he can add to what he's doing."
Don't start thinking the Falcons are suddenly trying Matt Ryan out at left guard, that's not what this is about. This applies more to things like special teams or seeing if a defender has any ability to rush the passer. Uncovering new ways to use players is one way that teams get better before the season starts.
Atlanta's secondary benefits from facing a 'nightmare' offense in practice
After Friday's camp session Quinn explained how good players get better from competing against other good players in practice, specifically mentioning defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and center Alex Mack as an example. The same idea can be applied to the Falcons' secondary and passing game, which each face tough tests every day in practice.
For the secondary, going against the Falcons' versatile and dynamic offense pushes them in ways that other teams around the league might not be able to match.
"If you've got Julio [Jones], you've got [Mohamed] Sanu and you've got [Calvin] Ridley on the field at the same time, and then you can throw the two running backs in there, who do you match up against, who do you put your best players on," free safety Ricardo Allen said Saturday. "It's a nightmare. To go against it every day, I personally don't think there's any other offense that has as many weapons from sideline to sideline that can give us as much pressure."
Sanu isn't a typical slot receiver, but he is a very good one
Most slot receivers in the NFL aren't 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, but most don't have the unique skill set that Mohamed Sanu does. The Falcons' receiver is bigger than what most people would picture in a slot receiver, but his quickness, speed and size are what make him the perfect inside receiver for Atlanta.
"Yeah, I definitely see myself as unique in that regard," Sanu said. "I move differently. I move a lot faster and quicker than people think. When I get the ball in my hands, I'm very hard to tackle. A linebacker isn't going to just flat-out maul me because I'm big. And a DB isn't going to out-quick me because I can move, too. It's tough."
To see what else Sanu had to say about his role in the Falcons' offense, click here.