FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons begin the third phase of the voluntary offseason program which includes 10 organized team activities (OTAs) sessions. OTAs allow teams to get back out on the practice fields and conduct 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 sessions while no live contact is permitted.
Here are the key storylines to watch for as the OTAs get underway on Monday:
- Straight from the 'Beek: Questions about , Calvin Ridley
- Rookie minicamp takeaways: Players make impressions
1. How does the offense look in Year 2 under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian?
The Falcons return all of their offensive starters from the 2017 season and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian enters his second season now having a year under his belt working with all of those players. Coach Dan Quinn has said don't expect any schematic changes to the offense, rather just some new wrinkles. So, what exactly are those new wrinkles? Is Sarkisian featuring any one player (or players) differently in 2018? Quarterback Matt Ryan said he wants the offense to be more disciplined and consistent in the upcoming year. So how is he setting the tone?
2. How is the Falcons' first-round pick adjusting and where is he being used?
One of the main reasons the Falcons were so attracted to receiver Calvin Ridley in the draft process was his versatility as a receiver. Not only can Ridley play outside, he's also shown he's a threat inside. Where is he spending most of his time? Quinn said the team will give him some looks at returner this offseason. And, finally, how much faster does this offense look with the addition of Ridley?
3. We'll get our first look at defensive tackle McClain in a Falcons uniform
One of the biggest positional needs for the Falcons this offseason was at defensive tackle after the departure of Dontari Poe. Atlanta drafted rookie defensive tackle Deadrin Senat in the third round, but when veteran Terrell McClain was cut by the Washington Redskins, Atlanta jumped on the opportunity to add more depth at this position. McClain took several visits (reportedly with the Dolphins, 49ers and Cowboys to name a few), but ultimately decided to sign with the Falcons. In his seven seasons in the league, he's played in 74 games with 29 starts. He has recorded 109 tackles, 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. How will McClain look lined up next to Grady Jarrett?
4. Checking in on the newest Falcons acquired during free agency
Although the Falcons didn't make a "big splash" in free agency, they still added a few players who they are expecting to be key contributors this season. Atlanta added experience at the guard spot with Brandon Fusco, a special teams ace in cornerback Justin Bethel and a veteran presence at tight end in Logan Paulsen. How are all of these players adjusting to the Falcons' scheme?
5. Who's injured, and who's not?
With the exception of a few players, the Falcons finished the season relatively healthy with no major injuries to key players. Devonta Freeman, Takkarist McKinley, Justin Hardy and Jack Crawford are among some of the players who have spent the offseason rehabilitating their respective injuries. How much are they able to participate in during OTAs? And what is their expected timetable for return? We should get a better idea and answers to those questions (and more) in the coming days.