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Five Things We Learned on Hard Knocks: Ep. 2

1. Rookie Club Takes the Spotlight: The second episode of "Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Atlanta Falcons" was all about the first-year players as Ra'Shede Hageman, Tyler Starr, Prince Shembo and Ricardo Allen, among others, all got significant camera time. It was another week of juxtapositions as Shembo's advancement and ownership of his role was put up against the likes of Starr, Allen and Hageman going through the normal rookie growing pains. More on that in a moment.

2. Hageman Hard on Himself: Whether on Tuesday night's episode or from what we've seen from our vantage point in the media box, Hageman is clearly his biggest critic. While it seems that defensive line coach Bryan Cox might be the biggest needler when Hageman makes a mistake, it doesn't seem to compare to the pressure he puts on himself to be better. Said general manager Thomas Dimitroff on the episode: "That's one of the things we really liked about him."

3. Matt Ryan, Leader:In a rare moment of Tuesday's episode featuring a veteran, quarterback Matt Ryan walks into the wide receivers meeting as it's going on to discuss a couple of plays that he wanted to clear up. Talking with wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, who seems more than willing to let the signal-caller hijack the meeting for a moment, Ryan points out a play where he read Harry Douglas' route wrong and he wanted to take the blame for it. It was a poignant, yet short moment in Hard Knocks on Tuesday night that showed just a tiny bit of the type of leader Ryan is.

4. Spoon Returns: It was a sobering sight as cameras showed linebacker Sean Weatherspoon wheeling himself on a scooter through the halls of Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch as he continues to recover from Achilles surgery. Out for the entire 2014 season, head coach Mike Smith was shown meeting with Weatherspoon about how important he can be for the younger linebackers. "I can be here for whatever you need me to be here for," Weatherspoon said to Smith. Weatherspoon said he gave his phone number to all the young linebackers to make himself as available as they want.

5. Shembo Calls, Shines: And with the use of that phone number, Shembo shows that he has the desire and hunger for knowledge that it takes to be successful in the NFL. Weatherspoon said that Shembo keeps calling him and the two even sat down to go over film. Perhaps the most impressive Falcon in the second episode of Hard Knocks, Shembo was praised throughout the episode, from Smith to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Shembo was handed the defensive reins in the second half of Friday's win over the Dolphins and handled it admirably. "He's out there running the show, which I like to see," Smith said to Nolan on the sideline of the game. During the film session with Weatherspoon, we find out that Shembo has even started to study ahead, revealing he's been watching film on New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and discovering his tendencies.

Extra Reps: The episode opened with shots of fullback Roosevelt Nix-Jones, even breaking the one-man sled with his power, before the scene cut to him being notified that the Falcons would be waiving him. ... Dimitroff is profiled during the second episode and it shows him as an avid cyclist, even getting a chance to ride with Lance Armstrong during the time period between veteran minicamp and XFINITY® Atlanta Falcons Training Camp in Aspen, Colo. ... On the day after rookies reported to training camp, a practice injury led Allen to a hospital visit for what he revealed was a... umm... issue with the family jewels. All indications since, however, are that Allen's feeling just fine in this stage of camp. ... The second episode revealed even more about Cox and his knowledge on life. The final scene shows Cox enjoying a cigar with outside linebackers coach Mark Collins near the pool back at Falcons headquarters after the win over Miami. The two talked about a variety of topics, but Cox offered this gem: "A man without some kind of habit has a lot of skeletons."

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