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Falcons take training camp to a new level


AHEAD OF LAST YEAR: It says a lot about wide receiver Brian Finneran's stature on the team that Smith said he will include Finneran in a group that will earn time off, as Finneran is in the "over 30 club."

At the outset of camp, Finneran said publicly that he was taking nothing for granted and felt he had to earn his spot on the team.

That's a long way from last year when he entered camp with a new coaching staff after missing two full seasons and had to prove himself.

He hardly seemed to drop a ball thrown his way on Monday and had one highlight reel grab where he reached to tap the ball with one hand before bringing it in with the other amid roars from the crowd.

"Brian is, I think light years, of where he was last year," Smith said. "He was coming off two consecutive years last year of not being able to play and I think that's one of best stories and maybe one of the most overlooked stories in the NFL last year. To miss two complete seasons, statistically, you usually don't come back from those and Brian has had the wherewithal, has worked very, very hard on his rehab, conditioning and we're really glad that Brian was able to come back because he's a stabilizing factor for our wide receiver room and on our offense."

Finneran, 33, said this was the first season in three that he has been able to go through all of the team's offseason team activities and that that has made a difference

"I'm working on my size and strength and conditioning and not having to focus so much on rehab, so I fell great," he said. "I'm hoping to keep it going and hoping to keep it where we're at."

And the ninth-year pro said with some self-deprecating humor that he is definitely looking forward to some of those "old man days" off.

"It feels good to know that I've made it this far and I've been playing so long," he said. "I remember thinking about Chris Chandler when he was 34 and he was my quarterback and I'm sitting there going, 'This guy has gray hair in his beard.' "

"He was probably at least 10 years older than I was at the time and he was working hard and doing the things he was supposed to be doing at the time and I just said to myself, 'I wonder if one day I'm going to be one of those guys that guys will look up to in the locker room and on the football field.' The most important thing is getting those old-man days, so, yeah, I look forward to them."

PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR:After the morning sessions, Smith said safety worked with the team's training staff today on an injury. Harris took part in afternoon drills.

Starting linebacker Curtis Lofton also did not participate for the second day in a row.

During August's two-a-day sessions, Smith said certain players would only participate in one practice per day and that others would be given certain sessions off.

Specifically, he mentioned tight end Tony Gonzalez, Finneran, center Todd McClure and linebacker Mike Peterson.

WEATHER REPORT:The heat began to pick up on Monday, with both sessions taking place in the mostly sunny heat. Temperatures hit 90 in the afternoon.

Tuesday is expected to be even hotter, with a high of 92, according to The Weather Channel.

Day Three -- Monday, Aug. 3, 2009
8:30 a.m./3:45 p.m. Practice
@FalconsJMoore "Words of the Day"

TRANSCRIPT:Head Coach Mike Smith talks about the first day in pads * NOTEBOOK:Finneran happy to be in camp without injury * VIDEO:Head Coach Mike Smith | Christopher Owens | Mike Peterson | Chris Houston * BLOGS:J. Michael Moore's blog posts from Aug. 3, 2009 * PHOTOS:Images from Day No. 3 at camp (Flickr)

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