FLOWERY BRANCH, GA —With injuries a natural part of training camp, Falcons head coach Mike Smith and his staff were prepared for the possibility of wide receiver Michael Jenkins being out for a considerable amount of time.
When Smith got word that Jenkins would be out four-to-six weeks with a shoulder injury that was suffered during last Friday night's scrimmage, all he had to do was a little bit of shuffling.
"We're going to rotate our wide receivers," Smith said. "Harry Douglas will be coming back, Brian Finneran, Eric Weems — they're all experienced players, so they will really step into his role. Harry, we're bring along slowly in a one-a-day mode, and Brian and Eric will probably get the majority of the snaps with Kerry Meier in the game (against the Kansas City Chiefs) Friday night."
There's such a crowd currently at the wide receiver position that Smith feels confident with the personnel he has on the roster. Douglas, Finneran, Weems and Meier — a rookie — all spent time at Jenkins' position Monday morning during a combined practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Falcons training facility.
While Douglas continues to work his way back from a knee injury that ended his season before it began last year, Finneran is trying to keep healthy, Weems is having a standout camp and Meier is shining as one of the team's most attention-grabbing rookies.
"Kerry's doing a good job. He's catching a lot of balls as a rookie," receiver Roddy White said. "Finn's gonna step up and do his thing to help us out. Weems is having the best camp I've seen probably since he got here. Other people are stepping up. Mike will be all right. He'll be ready for the season and he'll hit the ground running, and we'll take off from there."
New faces in town: The Jaguars rolled into camp prior to Monday's 8:30 a.m. session with four buses and a decked out RV. Jacksonville will be in town for three more sessions before the Falcons spend two more days preparing for the first preseason game of the year Friday.
Monday's morning practice consisted of several position, individual and team sessions with both teams in pads.
"I thought it was really good for our players. I thought it was really good for our coaches to get out here and really work against a different team with different color helmets and different color jerseys," Smith said. "I thought it was a really good morning on all phases. We got some special teams work, we got some offense and defense going and I thought it was a good practice."
Both teams also had the addition of not knowing what plays each was going to see. During regular camp practices, the Falcons' offense runs against the Falcons' defense, and things can get a little too familiar.
With the Jaguars in camp, there's an extra test in the mental aspect of the game.
"Everything's a little more true, and you got a good example of that (Monday morning) because we were completing a number of balls, but they were still playing good D, too," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said. "It's practice. I think a lot of the guys on our team thought we were coming out here getting ready for a scrimmage. It's not really that. It really is practice. The speed is a little different, though. I thought our guys stepped up and took on the challenge."
While there were a lot of mental reps taken Monday morning, there were quite a few physical ones, too.
As Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew put it, it's a chance to see where the Jaguars are at such an early point in the season.
"Obviously, Atlanta's a team that a lot of people see and think they have a great chance at winning the championship," Jones-Drew said. "We want to see where we are compared to them, and we feel like we have the same chance. Two great teams competing and having a great time doing it."
Overflow parking at camp: School has started, and that means the parking situation at camp has changed a bit. While some parking will be available across the street at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex from the Falcons' training facility, parking at the middle school will no longer be allowed.
Blackshear Place Baptist Church will accept any overflow parking for camp the next two days. The address for the church is 3428 Atlanta Highway in Flowery Branch.