Hageman progressing: Ra'Shede Hageman has dropped weight and seems to have gained plenty of confidence since the end of last year. The defensive tackle looks ready to take on a bigger role in 2015 and, with the Falcons moving back to a 4-3 set, feels he's in position to maximize his abilities. Head coach Dan Quinn noted Hageman's initial quickness stands out and said, "We're going to try to utilize it and feature it any way we can."
"(The new defense) fits me perfectly," Hageman said. "Just to disrupt everything — I'm really excited and looking forward to this season … I'm just hungry. I feel like I'm too big to be average."
Tight ends competing: Historically, tight ends have been vital pieces to Kyle Shanahan's offense. That won't change here. Question is, who, if anyone, can separate himself from the pack?
The Falcons second week of organized team activities began Tuesday in Flowery Branch. The team hit fields for workouts in the morning.
Although it's unclear what the Falcons' TEs can accomplish as receivers, position coach Wade Harman thinks the personnel in place will help the running game immensely. He's been happy with the zone blocking adjustments made so far and believes "we should have good matchups on the inside."
Newcomer Tony Moeaki, previously with the Seahawks, considers Atlanta a great environment for tight ends and mentioned the internal competition is making everyone better.
"Great group of guys," Moeaki said. "Pretty versatile guys. We just want to show the coaches that we can help the team, make plays, block and do everything they want us to do. That's our main goal."
Smith returns: Antone Smith, who suffered a broken leg in November, returned to action Tuesday and showed no signs of injury. The veteran running back didn't miss a beat and moved well during agility drills. Quinn envisions Smith as a key asset moving forward — particularly on special teams.
"The speed I think is the first thing that jumps out," Quinn said of Smith. "It's been awesome getting him back in the mix this week."
Tight-knit staff:The Falcons' new staff is comprised of men who know each other well. QB coach Matt LaFleur, who's worked with Kyle Shanahan (offensive coordinator), Bobby Turner (running backs) and Chris Morgan (offensive line) in the past, said the camaraderie amongst this staff is "unlike anything I've been a part of when first going into a job."
Chester getting acclimated: Newly signed guard Chris Chester was on the field Tuesday and didn't appear out of place. The 32-year-old has lots of experience in Shanahan's system — both were in Washington from 2010-13 — and will contend for a starting job at left guard.
"For his first day, I thought he did a really good job," Quinn said.