AtlantaFalcons.com's Daniel Cox will be live blogging throughout Monday's combined practice in Dalton, Ga. with the Tennessee Titans. The practice will feature the two teams squaring off in drills and 11-on-11 sessions. *Refresh this page often to see Daniel's updates throughout the practice session. *
6:48 p.m. - It looks like things may be wrapping up a few minutes early tonight. I'm about to head down to talk to coach Smith, Ryan and a few other guys. I'll be back with more shortly. Have a good evening everyone and thanks to Coahulla Creek High School for being such an awesome host.
6:43 p.m. - They heard my pleas and we're witnessing an 11-on-11 featuring the Falcons defense. The first-team defense looked good, but I'd like to rave about some of the young guns on the third-team D, specifically two rookie linemen, Jonathan Massaquoi and Travian Robertson.
Robertson pushed the pocket on one play and while they let the play continue, Robertson was there for the sack. A few plays later Massaquoi rushed QB Rusty Smith and stripped the ball from him. On the next play, he stunted to the inside and broke through with more pressure.
I watched Robertson closely at practice on Sunday and I feel like he's come on strong in the last few days. Massaquoi is showing some strong things tonight. These two young guys are going to be hard to ignore if they keep this up.
6:28 p.m. - Practice has a little under an hour to go. Currently I'm watching the D-line take on the Titans offensive line and a skelly drill on the other side of the field. For those that don't know, "skelly" is a bare-bones pass defense drill that excludes offensive and defensive linemen. It's all skill players and it's fun to watch.
Right now the Titans are rotating QBs in the drill against a variety of different Falcons defensive back and linebacker formations. The coverage by the ones on the Falcons is strong and I watched quarterback Rusty Smith check down to the running back option on two straight passes because the coverage held up around the field.
I also noticed a small sign (during training camp you'll take these kinds of subtle signs) of the aggressive play I'm expecting from players like safety William Moore. On an intermediate pass to tight end Craig Stevens, Moore closed on the pass and would have leveled Stevens. Moore held up on the play, but his momentum still bumped the tight end and even that was explosive.
6: 20 p.m. - The 11-on-11 session is over and the Falcons' defense has returned to the main field. I'm hoping we get to see a Titans offense-Falcons D session soon. If it's taking place on the other field and I'm not aware of that, I'm going to be upset. I think I'll walk over there soon if nothing is happening here with the D.
Meanwhile, the field goal units are on the field working on that phase of the game right now.
I did want to mention one of the feature plays of the previous 11 session. Julio Jones was the primary receiver on the field in what looked to be mostly first-team players for the Falcons and the Titans first-team D. Jones, in what I believe will be a play that he makes very well known, caught a touchdown pass. He lined up wide against Jason McCourty and ran a slant into the middle of the field. Ryan hit him perfectly in stride as he split the defenders. It was roughly a 25-yard pass and Ryan was on the money and it would have been a sure touchdown.
6:12 p.m. - The Falcons are in the middle of another 11-on-11 session, Falcons offense against the Titans defense. The offense is working a two-minute, no huddle drill where they're moving the ball quickly down the field, often in passing situations. There were a few empty backfield sets and I noticed once when Devonta Freeman lined up in the slot.
Kevin Cone made a really nice catch running across the middle. The throw wasn't perfectly on the mark, but he adjusted well, catching the ball and spinning at the same time. I also noticed guards Peter Konz and Andrew Jackson are heavily rotating at guard while Reynolds continues to get the majority of the first-team snaps.
The offense looks really crisp to these eyes. There aren't a lot of dropped passes or poorly-thrown balls from Ryan. There was a moment when his protection let him down during the drill. I was on the opposite side of the field of the pressure, so I don't know where the breakdown was, but Titans safety Jordan Babineaux blitzed from the blind side and he got to Ryan, registering the sack.
5:43 p.m. - The Falcons just wrapped up an 11-on-11 session. I didn't get to see all of it because I was making my way back up to the press box but I noticed a few things in the few minutes I got to watch.
Matt Ryan had a nice catch from the right receiver position when he was running with the ones. I watched Atlanta QB Matt Ryan's time in the pocket as he dropped back for passes against the Titans No. 1s on defense. I felt like he had the necessary time and I noticed him stepping forward in the pocket, something he didn't have the kind of protection necessary to do in recent years.
5:33 p.m. - I just ran down to the field to get a closer look at the Falcons offensive linemen and the Titans defensive line. From my observations I felt like the Falcons line held up well against the Titans front four. There were a variety of players involved in this drill well beyond the first teamers.
The primary stand out to me was the current No. 1 right guard Garrett Reynolds. Karl Klug, a promising young defensive lineman for the Titans was handled well by Reynolds. I thought Reynolds look strong in his technique and powerful in keeping Klug in front of him.
Also while I was down there the Falcons wide receivers were facing the defensive backs from the Titans in a passing drill. I heard the crowd a few times on what I assume were big plays by someone. The one play I managed to see was Atlanta's Marcus Jackson make a nice falling down catch as Chris Hawkins covered him.
5:10 p.m. - The Titans have moved to the baseball field next to the field and the Falcons are on the football currently. This is a split session right now. They're doing some walkthrough work, which is essentially an installation of certain plays.
To the untrained eye —mine fits that category— it's an odd thing to watch. Essentially it's a pretend play where the players line up in their designated positions and the ball is snapped. At that point they walk through the play up to the point where the ball is released from the quarterback's hands or handed off to the running back.
The two teams probably have an 11-on-11 session coming up pretty soon. Don't touch that dial. Or web browser.
4:50 p.m. –Fifteen minutes into practice and we're deep in a special teams drill. The Titans are working on their punting and punt coverage as they punt to the Falcons. One note on the punt returners is there are only three fielding punts. Harry Douglas, Tim Toone and James Rodgers are back deep for the Falcons. That's a departure from some things we've been seeing at camp. Those three may be the finalists for the punt return job this season, though I believe personally Douglas is the man with the job at the end of the preseason. As I type this, the two teams switch and now the Falcons are punting and the Titans are fielding.
4:07 p.m. - We're here in Dalton, Ga. for today's joint practice with the Atlanta Falcons and the Tennessee Titans. The Falcons traveled 120 miles to get here and the Titans trekked 162 miles. Both teams are on the scene and the stands are quickly filling up. Most of the action this afternoon and evening won't be as live as what we saw on Friday at Friday Night Lights, but for those that have been actively following everything happening at Falcons training camp, it will be nice to see the players face off against some foreign competition.
For the most part the Falcons and the Titans will follow the same routines that they typically do. The major difference today will be instead of Falcons defensive backs and wide receivers facing off in a drill, each team will have a squad representing in the session.
A few key matchups I'm looking out for: Falcons defensive line against the Titans offensive line and Falcons DBs against Titans WRs (specifically rookie Kendall Wright). I've also had a few requests from Twitter (follow me here) to keep my eye on left tackle Sam Baker.
Practice will begin at 4:30 and I'll be back with some notes around that time.
The Atlanta Falcons will conduct a combined practice with the Tennessee Titans in Dalton, Ga., at Coahulla Creek High School on Monday. This marks the third consecutive year the Falcons have participated in combined practices with other NFL teams.
Falcons Football Night in Dalton is presented by Brooker Ford, Georgia Army National Guard, and Kimberly-Clark. The event is open to the public and admission is free. This grass roots event includes a fan fest with interactive inflatable games, cheerleader autographs, sponsor activation, and a post-event autograph session. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. and action on the field starts at 4:30 p.m. The Falcons hosted combined practices with the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010, and traveled to Jacksonville for combined practices in 2011.
"The National Football League is considered the highest level of competition in football. I can't think of a more exciting way to begin the school year and the football season than attending a professional football combined practice," said Danny Hayes, Whitfield County Schools Superintendent. "Sports and sports media is a powerful force in today's society and this event can bring together thousands of families from Georgia and Tennessee. We thank head coach Mike Smith and the Falcons organization for allowing us to host this event and hope that you will join the Atlanta Falcons, the Tennessee Titans, and Coahulla Creek High School as the teams and players reach out to our community."
The Falcons would like to thank Brooker Ford, Georgia Army National Guard, and Kimberly-Clark as well as Russell Athletic, SunTrust Bank, Coca Cola, and The Home Depot for making Falcons Football Night in Dalton possible.