FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The players were back out on the practice fields Wednesday for Day 2 of Atlanta Falcons' Minicamp built by The Home Depot, and the young guys were once again the center of attention.
Following practice, coach Dan Quinn named some of the players who stood out to him on an overcast Wednesday afternoon. That list included rookie cornerbacks Jayson Stanley and Rashard Causey, offensive linemen Kaleb McGary and Matt Gono as well as running back Ito Smith.
Each of those players had notable moments during practice, catching the attention of more than just the head coach. But it takes several strong practices to truly cement a reputation, and there have been some players who have been performing well dating all the way back to the beginning of organized team activities.
In thinking back to the players who have consistently performed well since arriving back at the facility, Quinn led off the list with Russell Gage, saying his development over the past year "has been significant to me." Quinn also named newcomers James Carpenter, Jamon Brown and Tyeler Davison as guys who have impressed since joining the team.
Deion Jones says defense 'has a lot to prove'
After a year defined by injuries, the Falcons' defense is close to having everyone back on the field. When all starters are on hand, Atlanta showed it can field an athletic and stingy defense. Deion Jones has not participated in any minicamp practices, but he's been observing plenty. Knowing how eager he and his fellow teammates coming off of injury are to be back out on the field together, he believes the defense will have a chip on its shoulder.
"We have a lot to prove coming back off of injuries," Jones said. "That chip is on our, and we're getting back into it … We've got to really show ourselves that we're still that top defense."
Other observations from Day 2
- Former UCF standout Rashard Causey made possibly the play of the day in the middle of practice, stepping in front of a pass down the right sideline. Causey hit the ground making the interception, got up and ran it in for a pick-six.
- Causey wasn't the only cornerback to make a nice stop, however. Former Georgia star Jayson Stanley who is transitioning from receiver to corner, showed good anticipation in breaking up a pass.
- Kurt Benkert ended practice with a deep touch pass to Shawn Bane, who stayed in bounds down the sideline and ran it in for a touchdown.
- Ra'Shede Hageman continues to look impressive at times out on the field. He pushed the center back into the lap of Benkert on one pass play, which would have very likely resulted in a sack during a game.
- Rookie running back Qadree Ollison looked loose out on the field, showcasing his vision and agility on two long runs during an early 11-on-11 period.