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Key takeaways from Falcons OTAs: Trufant's return, battle at right guard

CB Desmond Trufant could make return to action in the next two weeks

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Falcons Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant could be making his return to action sooner than expected, coach Dan Quinn said on Thursday.

"I expect him to be back for not only for camp but possibly even sooner where he could work into some portion of practice over the next two weeks," Quinn said. "We'll see where that goes. He's doing fantastic, he's really pushed it from a rehab standpoint. He's strong, he's fit and hopefully over the next couple of days we'll have some clarity on that if he can start doing little bits. He's chomping at the bit to get back with his guys."

Trufant suffered a torn pectoral muscle during the Falcons' 43-29 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9, eventually undergoing surgery and ended his season on injured reserve.

Quinn also provided an update on the progress of a few other injured Falcons including defensive end Derrick Shelby (Achilles) and linebacker/safety Kemal Ishmael (shoulder).

"Progress-wise, the guys who are furthest along right now would be Trufant, Shelby and Ishmael. Those are the guys who are really making a push and hopefully over the next two weeks we'll have them at some level."

The Falcons have five more OTA sessions before their three-day mandatory minicamp on June 13-15.

Quinn: Ben Garland and Wes Schwetizer have had a 'fantastic' offseason

Who will be Atlanta's starting right guard for upcoming season remains one of the hottest questions surrounding the Falcons.

Quinn said at this point, the competition is between Wes Schweitzer, the Falcons' sixth-round draft pick in 2016 and defensive lineman turned offensive lineman, Ben Garland.

Schweitzer saw no game action for the Falcons in 2016, while Garland played 101 snaps -- 52 defense and 49 on offense.

"The first two guys who will be battling for it will be Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland," Quinn said of the right guard battle. "They've had a fantastic offseason. [When] we talk about guys who want to set it off, those two, not only have they set it off, they're humility is such they work out together, they work on things together. When you see them in post practice, helping one another along, you can imagine as a coach how that feels to see two guys who are battling for it, but are also helping one another."

As for if rookie guard Sean Harlow will be added to that mix, Quinn said they will "let that play itself out."

Who has stood out to Dan Quinn through the first week of OTAs?

Several players have caught Quinn's attention through the first week of OTAs.

Quinn was asked who in his roster has stood out thus far and who could potentially emerge as a leader, and rather than naming one player, he named seven.

"I felt the communication piece that I was asking for that from Keanu Neal, could that be a part of his game that he ramped up? Deion Jones and LaRoy [Reynolds] are two others at linebacker that man, I felt their intent. Justin Hardy yesterday, at the receiver spot, that really looked on point. Running back wise, I felt the same thing from [Tevin] Coleman and [Devonta] Freeman in terms of their intent. I thought they looked really fit and really strong. Grady Jarrett is another one who has totally jumped out to us so far."

It's not just those players that Quinn has been impressed with, he's encouraged by what he's seen on the field form his entire team and the attitude they have come to work with.

"The first two days, the attitude of the group has been on point," Quinn said. "And the speed of how we are doing things looks good."

Dontari Poe will be 'significant' factor for Falcons

Of course Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff knew exactly the caliber of player they were getting in Dontari Poe when they signed him in April. However, what they didn't quite know – and what they have learned – is the quality of teammate he is.

"He's been an excellent addition to us," Quinn said. "We knew he was a good player, what we did find out was what a good teammate he is. He'll be a significant factor for us."

Defensive line coach Bryant Young said between the force Poe can be on the field combined with his calm demeanor makes him a great fit for his unit.

"He's a very quiet guy, very stoic," Young said of Poe. "I've been impressed with how he's worked out there on the field. He's a great fit for our room, he brings a great personality. He doesn't talk a whole lot, but when he steps on the grass, he's ready to work."

Improved footwork at the front of Matt Ryan's mind this offseason

When asked what areas of his game he wanted to improve after a season in which he was named the NFL's MVP, Matt Ryan said it's hard to just pick one area.

But after nine seasons, Ryan certainly knows the importance of having a narrow focus when creating a point of attack for an offseason.

Ryan told reporters on Thursday that his area of focus is continuing to improve his footwork so he can be more accurate.

"For me, it always comes back to getting yourself in position to throw the ball most accurately. I feel like even though we did some good things last year, that part is done. We evaluated, we've seen some things that can get better in terms of our footwork, in terms of getting in position to throw the ball more consistently. That's been a point of emphasis for us the first two days. It's tough to replicate that without doing it live, at full speed. That's what I've been most excited for to get on the field and start working on that footwork stuff that we've been trying to get right."

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