1. Solid Work Done in Texas: The Falcons participated in the second of two combined practices with the Texans on Thursday morning and the overall sense from the Falcons coaching staff was that the trip to Houston a few days early was well worth it. "I thought it was good work," head coach Mike Smith said Thursday. "We worked on a lot of situations that we wanted to do. We did some red zone, backed up, a couple of different two-minute situations and I thought it was very good work."
2. Matthews vs. Watt, Part 2: The Jake-Matthews-vs.-JJ-Watt matchup continued Thursday and the rookie put in some solid snaps against the Pro Bowler. Matthews relished the experience of going up against Watt, saying he's everything he's advertised to be. Although he was happy with how he performed, he felt there's a lot to build from after a couple of solid practices facing Watt: "It was definitely a challenge going up against him. I thought I did some good things, but at the same time, I've got a lot of things I've got to get better at," Matthews said. "I want to go against the best. I want to be able to compete and block the best, and there's no better way than going against JJ Watt."
The second combined session with the Falcons visiting the Texans got underway Thursday as the two teams prepared for Saturday's preseason game
3. Jones, White Take Day of Rest: It was floppy bucket hats for Julio Jones and Roddy White on Thursday as the star wide receivers both had the day off from practice. During these types of practices, Jones and White focus on the mental reps, something they find equally important as physical ones: "When I'm on the sideline, I try to stay in-tune with the game, just off the play-calling, seeing what I've got to do and then reading the defenses at the same time," Jones said Thursday. "Also, I'm trying to help those young guys on the sideline with me."
4. Jones' Status Undecided: Smith didn't give any information as to whether Jones will play in Saturday's preseason game against the Texans. Wanting to keep that close to his vest, Smith said the Falcons are sticking to their behind-the-scenes script: "We have a plan and we all know what it is, and that's to make sure we have our players healthy and ready to go (for Week 1)," Smith said. "We're not going to deviate from that. I don't want to give anybody any information that's going to help (Houston) get prepared."
5. Battles Wide Open: XFINITY® Atlanta Falcons Training Camp is about to break in a few days and the battles raging for several positions are still as close as they can be. Smith offered an update after Thursday's session: "When you start talking about the position battles, I think you can go across the board," Smith said. "On the offensive line, there's battles. The nickel battle is wide open. Back-end roster spots for the linebacker position is something that's going to be taking care of itself over the next couple of weeks."