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Minicamp Takeaways

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Falcons minicamp takeaways: Offense rises to coaches' challenge; Kurt Benkert closes strong

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons wrapped up their second day of Minicamp Built by The Home Depot Wednesday, and they have just one more practice left before a summer break until training camp begins.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was again pleased with his team's effort on the field, explaining that they improved in the areas they had been challenged on their first day of minicamp practice.

Here are some of the main takeaways and other observations from the Falcons' minicamp session on Wednesday.

Rookie CB Oliver already making an impression

In his first few full-team practices, rookie cornerback Isaiah Oliver has already made a strong impression on his teammates. Starting safety Ricardo Allen praised Oliver for both his maturity and physical ability following practice.

"He's new, but he's real mature," Allen said. "He and I were partners when we were doing a mentoring group, he was my mentee. So, I got to talk to him a lot. He's very mature, and he's real smart. And he's much faster than I even thought he was; he can run with any wide receiver."

To see what else Allen had to say about Oliver, click here.

Ryan to host a passing camp with teammates, including Jones

As he's done the past two years, quarterback Matt Ryan will host an off-site passing camp for at least a dozen Falcons players. Among those Ryan expects to be in attendance are star receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman.

"We have a group of guys that are going to get together in the month of July," Ryan said. "We'll have an extended period where we'll get some work together and that's something that we've done in the past. This year is a little bit later due to my offseason but we'll still have that chance to work together and I think it will be really productive for us. This timing will be really good too, closer to training camp. A lot of the things we'll work on will carry over and we'll be able to apply those things as we get into the season."

To read more about Ryan's passing camp, click here.

Quinn eager to show appreciation, gratitude on Iraq trip

The Falcons will be the only NFL team to make a USO tour this summer, traveling to Iraq to visit active duty members at three military bases. On the trip, Quinn will be joined by kicker Matt Bryant, guard Ben Garland and center Alex Mack.

"There's a number of service men and women there that I just want them to know that we're really thinking of them," Quinn said. "We wanted to make sure we saw them where they were at and let them know how important they are."

To hear more about what Quinn is expecting from the trip, click here.

Offense responded with better showing Wednesday

After Wednesday's practice, Quinn said he was pleased with the way the Falcons' offense responded after the coaching staff wasn't happy with "the regard for the ball," which essentially means they felt the offense had too many turnovers and careless plays. One day after the defense was "hawking it," however, the offense made a good deal more plays with fewer mistakes.

On three consecutive plays, Reggie Davis, Marvin Hall and Christian Blake made catches for a good chunk of yardage. The offense also performed well in the red-zone portion of practice, although the starting secondary looked very fluid in passing off their assignments to one another in coverage – another signal that the growing experience bodes well for that unit.

Benkert look sharp in final possession

Rookie quarterback Kurt Benkert threw a rough interception down near the end zone about midway through practice, but he responded in strong fashion. The Falcons ended practice with a drill that simulated a final drive with 35 seconds on the clock and minimal timeouts with the offense needing a touchdown to win. In that drill, Benkert looked sharp.

The University of Virginia product threw a strong pass on an out route to the sideline that was hauled in by rookie receiver Devin Gray

, who made an impressive fingertip grab on the play. On the ensuing snap, Benkert threw another good ball over two defenders, one leaping, to find his intended receiver in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.