Joint practices with Dolphins should help Falcons progress

Falcons players run hills during OTA practices
Falcons players run hills during OTA practices

The Falcons will break up their training camp routine this summer by conducting joint practices against the Miami Dolphins. Head coach Arthur Smith announced those plans in a Tuesday press conference before the start of minicamp practice.

The practice sessions will come around the Aug. 21 preseason game between the clubs at Hard Rock Stadium, most likely before the game kicks off. That contest against the Dolphins is sandwiched between home preseason games with Tennessee and Cleveland and should offer a productive change of pace for Smith's club.

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Joint practices have been common for a while but are particularly popular these days. There's great benefit to the heightened competition going against another team and an unfamiliar scheme, even in a practice setting without live tackling. Offensive and defensive linemen can take a great deal from the experience, in full-squad periods or one-on-one drills.

That will be an important preseason stretch for the Falcons and a chance to make great progress applying new schemes while preparing for the regular season. The key to productive sessions is staying out of scuffles while keeping things focused on football. While any team can take something from the joint-practice experience, this should really help Smith and the staff evaluate the team in the middle of the preseason, with plenty of time to fix problems that show up during those sessions and in the exhibition game itself.

The environment also provides solid teaching tape and, if the Falcons emerge injury free from clean practices, this could be an important step in their regular-season prep.

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