FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — When Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah was carted off the practice field nursing an ankle injury, Tre Flowers readily stepped up.
The two roomed together with the other corners before Okudah got hurt and the bond quickly formed.
"It didn't take long to see that our mindsets were alike," Flowers said. "Just trying to dominate -- not accepting any type of failure."
Flowers said they talk often about their shared mentality and beyond. It won't be long until those conversations return to the field, as Okudah is estimated to come back "in the early part of the season," per Falcons coach Arthur Smith.
Until then Flowers, as well as Mike Hughes, are expected to fill the void at right cornerback.
This isn't the first time Flowers has been forced to change gears and step up. The Seattle Seahawks cut Flowers after Week 5 back in 2021. Flowers played three seasons in Seattle after the Seahawks drafted him in the fifth round in 2018.
Falcons secondary teammate Jessie Bates III was alongside Flowers through the combine and draft process, as they both came in as safeties before Flowers made the move to cornerback. Bates was also there in Cincinnati when the Bengals picked up Flowers from Seattle.
"This is another new transition for him, that's not easy," Bates said. "Every year you got to re-establish who you are as a player in this league, and that's the business that we're in."
This one was a seamless transition, Falcons secondary coach Steve Jackson said.
Along with Bates, Jackson also worked with Flowers in Cincinnati as the Bengals secondary coach from 2020-21.
"He came in midseason; he had learned the defense, learn the techniques, assimilate with the rest of the players, and I mean, he fit right in because of his character," Jackson said. "He's relentless."
Flowers appeared in 17 games last season off the bench with the Bengals, recording 27 total tackles and an interception. He didn't start any game with his former team, but Bates added that Flowers played a third-down role.
Bates noticed a point of growth in Flowers' demeanor between then and now. When the cornerback first arrived in Cincinnati, Bates said that Flowers was kind of looking to others, but now he's settled vet and more comfortable in his capabilities. Now, Bates believes Flowers' capabilities amount to that starting spot.
"He has a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience," Bates said. "There's no surprise [with] him stepping up."
Even so, Flowers isn't a man of many words. Jackson describes him as a "quiet storm."
"He doesn't do a lot of talking until it's time to talk," Jackson said. "He's a thinker, he's smart, he's considerate until he steps across the line and gets on the field — then he becomes a whole different person."
It was no better displayed than at practice Sunday. When Flowers took the field he was loud, communicating with the rest of the defense and pointing directions with his bright red gloves. When he retreated to the sidelines, he was silent. He quietly observed the ongoing play while perched on one knee, helmet resting on the grass.
Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch during the 2023 AT&T Training Camp.
He'll get to put that storm on display against his former team when the Bengals visit Mercedes Benz Stadium Friday in the Falcons' second preseason game.
Though it'll be a "nameless, faceless opponent" for Flowers, he, Bates and Jackson left a significant mark in Cincinnati as a part of the Super Bowl run in 2021-22.
Flowers remembers the first time he felt like that team could really make a deep playoff run. The No. 4 seeded Bengals marched into Nashville to take on No. 1 Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game. Right after kickoff, Bates picked off the first play of the game.
That's when Flowers knew.
He ran onto the field to celebrate with Bates and told his teammate he never saw anything like that before.
"That's what we're building here," Bates said. "We will be a very smart team and very aggressive as well. A team that plays for one another, I think that's gonna be special. That's how you build something special."
Jackson pumped the brakes adding that they've got a long way to go, but they're trying to build an exceptional defense.
Part of a dominant defense is depth. When one player goes down, there isn't much drop off with the next man up. That's what Flowers is looking to infuse at starting cornerback.
"Energy's there every day. I look at my teammates every day knowing that everybody on the team wants to get better at something," Flowers said. "You just feel that it's contagious. It makes you go harder."