FLOWERY BRANCH, GA — Matt Ryan spent the formative years of his college career watching a great quarterback just up the road from Boston College. On Tuesday, Ryan got a chance to see that same quarterback on the fields he practices every day.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots came to Flowery Branch on Tuesday to have two combined practices session with the Falcons before the two teams square off in their second preseason game of 2010 on Thursday. Ryan was very aware that Brady was around, practicing just one field over from him.
In such a protective atmosphere, however, Ryan didn't get much of a chance to converse with Brady before the morning session began.
"I think everybody's protective. I think everybody wants a bit of their competitive advantage," Ryan said Tuesday. "Whatever he's been doing has worked because he's been extremely productive over the course of his career.
"Even more than X's and O's and training tips, it's just good to get to know those guys. I watched Tom all through college up at BC and that was really right through their three Super Bowl runs. Good to finally meet him. Last year, when we played up there, I didn't get to talk to him."
Ryan got a brief chance Tuesday morning to talk with Brady. During practice, Brady and Ryan both looked sharp — Brady continuing to find wide receiver Randy Moss for big plays and Ryan spreading the ball around to the many options the Falcons have at wide receiver.
Despite the fact that Ryan has watched much of Brady's career while at BC and last year when the Falcons traveled to New England during the regular season, the third-year quarterback isn't trying to be the next Tom Brady. Ryan has a lot of respect for Brady, but Ryan said as far as personal quarterback style goes, he's already found his comfort level. There's only one thing he'd like to take away from the eye he's kept on Brady's career.
"I think the biggest thing that you would try and emulate — it's not throw motion or footwork or anything like that — it's just the consistency that he has had year in, year out, week in and week out," Ryan said. "I think that's the No. 1 thing I would try to do that he's done."
Dunta's back: Cornerback Dunta Robinson returned to the practice field Tuesday morning after spending weeks coming back from a tight hamstring that began plaguing him near the start of camp.
Robinson, who will not play Thursday night against the Patriots, said while he does feel like he's behind, he has the ability to catch up very quickly.
"I missed 25 practices, so it's going to take maybe a week to get my feet back up under me, get my wind right.," Robinson said Tuesday. "You can come out here and run all the sprints you want, but until you put all this equipment on, until you put the helmet on and run around, you really don't know.
"But the good thing about it is I have time. I have plenty of time to come out here and just do what I've got to do and make sure I get back in football shape, so I'll be fine."
Grimes resting: Cornerback Brent Grimes, who moved up the unofficial depth chart released Sunday to the starting left cornerback position, sat out of practice Tuesday morning.
"Any time you miss, you're missing an opportunity to compete against some really good players," head coach Mike Smith said. "It's something that you want your guys to do. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to work with us today, but we've got to get our guys healthy and our main goal is that, come Sept. 12, we have as many guys healthy as we can."
Douglas feeling good: Matt Ryan is getting his first real taste of full speed drills since he injured his knee during training camp last year. Douglas looks to be back in top shape.
He had one of the highlights of the morning practice when he climbed the ladder to make a great catch for a touchdown from Ryan against New England's defense.
"It felt good to get out there and go against another opponent — a good opponent, at that," Douglas said. "It felt good to get out here and run around a little bit, get a little contact and things of that nature."
Quote of the day: New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork talked a little bit about what it means to him to win. Here's what he had to say, in eloquent fashion:
"We want to take this field and we've all got one goal in mind, and it's to win and get better and compete. We want to win everything, so it's nothing personal. It's just the mindset that I have. I hate to lose. I want to win everything. I don't care if it's a spitting contest. I want to win. Anything that you can win, I want to win."