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Minicamp report: Falcons wrap up offseason training program with shortened 'simulated practice'

Tori McElhaney shares her notes and observations from practice. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- After months of voluntary work that began back in April, the Falcons held their final practice of the offseason on Tuesday to close out mandatory minicamp. Atlanta will hold one more day of team meetings Wednesday before players and staff break for summer. They'll report back for training camp in late July.

Head coach Raheem Morris addressed the local media prior to Tuesday's practice, explaining it would be a shortened session.

"You got a chance to see the guys and get them their mandatory physicals for the year," Morris said. "It's been great to be around the guys in the meeting setting, and we'll get a chance to go out and have a simulated practice to get these guys to the offseason."

Here's a look at the Falcons final practice session of the 2024 offseason.


Notes, observations from practice

Roll call: Though the Falcons had 100 percent of its rostered players in attendance for minicamp, there were a few faces still missing from practice. Namely, veteran defensive tackles Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata. Reminder: Jarrett is still working back from a season-ending knee injury hesustained about halfway through the 2023 season. Other players not on the field for Tuesday's practice were CB Kevin King and RB Robert Burns.

It's important to note, though, that the Falcons did see the return of recent draftee RB Jase McClellan to practice.

McClellan has been working through a foot injury that has lingered since his final year at Alabama in 2023. The running back missed the SEC Championship because of it. Tuesday was the first day McClellan practiced with the Falcons after missing rookie minicamp and open OTAs over the last few weeks.

Meanwhile, OT Kaleb McGary was at practice alongside his fellow linemen, but he did not participate in the session. OT Storm Norton ran with the first-team offensive line in his place at right tackle.

Grady Jarrett speaks: Though he did not practice, Jarrett did take some time to update local media about his recovery status following practice. When asked how his rehab was looking, Jarrett said he felt confident.

"I'm feeling good, man," Jarrett said. "I've done a lot of work to get to this point."

Jarrett went on to say his goal is to be as close to 100 percent as possible by the start of training camp in July. He said his early reps in camp may look a little different than most as the Falcons work to get him acclimated again, but he should be close to full-go (if not fully there) from a physical standpoint by late July/early August.

Eyes on the secondary: The rotation in the Falcons' secondary was intriguing to watch during the majority of offseason work but especially Tuesday, with nearly the full slate of secondary options available.

The main note to take from this session is just how stiff the competition at cornerback opposite A.J. Terrell will be come training camp. Clark Phillips III seems to be the leader in the proverbial clubhouse for the spot, with Dee Alford working primarily at nickel. However, there were a notable number of reps that saw Mike Hughes opposite Terrell and Phillips moved into the slot.

Another name to keep in mind for depth purposes and potentially even a starting spot is Antonio Hamilton Sr., a journeyman who's worked in a wide range of defensive systems since joining the league in 2016. The Falcons acquired Hamilton back in early April. He was getting work in with the second team Tuesday.


Goal of the offseason: Similar to the rules in place during the voluntary OTA practice periods, mandatory minicamp has a non-contact policy in place. Meaning: No tackling. Therefore, practice is a glorified walk-through with helmets on. Because of this, it's difficult to get a full physical evaluation of where individual players are in their development. For Morris, though, he's not as worried about the physical right now as he is about the mental aspects of the game.

"The easiest way to put it for you, I treat (the offseason work) as a mental game," Morris said. "From the neck up in the offseason, right? You take a little bit of the physical toll off and you increase the mentals and check the guys' capacity and how much they retain."

However, there are some physical traits that display growth within the team chemistry. Morris used the example of Kirk Cousins and the Falcons' receiver corps.

"Right now, going through the offseason, you've been able to see a real nice connection," Morris said. "... I think (Cousins) has got a real good feel for what his guys are able to do and what he can do with those guys."

Drake London agreed.

"It's been fun growing that (chemistry)," London said of his relationship with his new QB1. "Just talking, learning from him, the things that he sees I can see now. Building that chemistry, it's been fairly easy because he's an exceptional player himself. He's vetted like no other right now, about to go into his 13th year so for him to have that is huge for my game as well."

Quote of the day: Though there is not too much to see by way of live play in the trenches right now, Morris still took time Tuesday to break down what he's seen from the Falcons starting offensive front.

Morris knows what to expect from his veteran linemen, as he was in Atlanta when OG Chris Lindstrom and OT Kaleb McGary were drafted and during the middle years of OT Jake Matthews' career. He's enjoyed getting to know second-year OG Matthew Bergeron, who Morris said carries himself with an "authentic, youthful arrogance" that he loves.

However, it was what Morris said about center Drew Dalman that got the room laughing.

"Drew Dalman is just a psychopath," Morris said. "You love that about him. He's got two options in life: He could either be a good center, or man, I'd be worried about him."

Quite the note to end on, I know.

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