MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Matt Ryan and Brian Flores go way back. The Falcons quarterback and Miami Dolphins head coach were Boston College teammates back in 2003 – Ryan was a red shirt when Flores was a senior linebacker -- and have stayed in touch during rises to NFL prominence.
They texted a bit recently, with Ryan saying he was excited about this week's joint practices between their teams.
"[Flores] said, 'I know you've seen everything, so I put in some new stuff for you,'" Ryan said after Wednesday's practice. "I asked him not to treat me like he did on the 2003 scout team at B.C. They had a few different things today."
That's a good thing. The Falcons want to be tested during these joint practices, going against a different team and a new scheme where they don't always know what's coming. That forces them into a game-like posture of having to adjust to the brand new, the unexpected on the fly. The Dolphins obviously aren't throwing out everything in the playbook during these sessions, especially against a team they play during the regular season, but there were difficult looks that tested the Falcons offensive operation.
"They stress you defensively, with your rules," Ryan said. "They do a good job. They got us a few times. We had a few plays on our end that we did well. This is what this time of year is all about, to see what we can do, what we can't do and what we need to clean up."
The Falcons offense had several bright moments during Wednesday's session, including a stellar day from Calvin Ridley and some quality moments from Kyle Pitts, Tajae Sharpe and Hayden Hurst. The offensive line held up fairly well, providing Ryan time to make some plays against his former college teammate turned defensive-minded head coach.
Ryan isn't surprised to see Flores rise through the ranks after college. They were Eagles together for one year, when Ryan fresh out of high school and Flores was an established linebacker in his final year. He then went from a New England scout to a coach and eventually a defensive play caller before taking over in Miami.
"Brian was kicking my ass when I was on scout team," Ryan said. "He was a good player back then. As soon as he went to New England as a scout, with how professional he always was – he's quiet, a hard worker and a good teammate. He was good to me as a freshman coming in. I'm happy for him. He has worked hard to get to this position and deserves everything that comes his way."
The Atlanta Falcons are in Miami participating in joint practices with the Dolphins leading up to the second preseason game on Saturday.