FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – A.J. Terrell stole possession Sunday and didn't give it up. The Falcons cornerback jumped in front of a pass from A.J. McCarron and caught it with room to run for what would've been a pick 6 in live action.
"I'm coming out here competing every day, doing my job," Terrell said after practice. "I finally got my hands on the ball today. I'm looking for many more during camp."
Credit for the heist should always go to the thief, but this particular pass was pretty late and made for an easy pick. A player of Terrell's caliber should always take that away.
The Clemson product made a far more impressive play the day before despite the ball falling harmlessly to the turf. He locked horns with Russell Gage Friday in a one-on-one coverage drill, where the offense most always has the advantage.
Not in this instance. Terrell completely cramped Gage's style. He was physical at the line of scrimmage, smothered him down the field and used the boundary to his advantage, giving Gage zero space to make a reception.
It was true lock-down corner stuff.
Terrell didn't celebrate a victorious rep. He just went back about his business, as No. 1 cornerbacks often do.
He doesn't need to hoot and holler. Experience has told Terrell he's good during a solid rookie season.. So has a full offseason program devoted to his craft he didn't get in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"He proves it every day. He gets better," Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said. "He's fun to coach, fun to work with. I'm excited about his progress."
Terrell accelerates his progress by working against the Falcons' best. That's Gage and Calvin Ridley this season, with him occasionally matching up with Kyle Pitts when the rookie tight end goes out wide.
Those exchanges, with the veterans especially, help Terrell improve his craft. That happens during the rep and sometimes after, when the teammates share notes and insight from the other side.
"I compete with all those guys," Terrell said. "With Calvin and Russ, they give me their best and I give them my best. We just keep competing each day.
"When I get done with them I try to ask what they were trying to do on a certain route or how they were trying to get me. We're always teaching each other."
Tight end Kyle Pitts is locked in as he works through his first training camp. Take a look at the best images from Day 4 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.
2022 Atlanta Falcons: First Look Open Practice
WHEN: July 29-30, August 1-10, 15, 24, 25
Rise Up Dirty Birds! Be the first to see your 2022 Atlanta Falcons take the field as they prepare for the upcoming season!