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OTA Report: Raheem Morris updates status of Bijan Robinson 

The second-year running back has an ankle injury. Plus notes and observations from practice. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- For the second week in a row, the Falcons will be without their star running back during a Tuesday open practice. Bijan Robinson is working through an ankle injury and will likely miss the organized team activities period in the lead up to mandatory minicamp beginning Monday, June 10.

However, when asked about Robinson's recovery timeline Tuesday, head coach Raheem Morris said the Falcons are "really positive" about how Robinson is progressing.

The Falcons are in Phase 3 of OTAs and hold practice Monday through Thursday of this week before veterans take a week off and return for the final stint of voluntary practice before mandatory minicamp commences to wrap up the team's offseason work. The expectation for Robinson, Morris said, is to be back for some on-field, "movement" work by mandatory minicamp.

"He's progressing well," Morris said. "He's been out there. He's in great spirits. He's definitely learning the game above the neck. He's the first person who wants to talk about it. You can't help but smile when you see Bijan. That's just who he is. That's what he is."

The Falcons will officially start their summer break Wednesday, June 12. That break will allow Robinson further time to rest before returning for training camp at the end of July. The expectation is to have Robinson at full-go for training camp.

"When we get to training camp I'd love to see him rolling," Morris concluded.


Notes, observations from practice

• Roll call: As previously stated, the Falcons were without RB Bijan Robinson during Tuesday's practice, but he wasn't the only one. CB A.J. Terrell, WR KhaDarel Hodge, WR Rondale Moore, S Richie Grant, RB Jase McClellan, CB Antonio Hamilton Sr. and DT Grady Jarrett were not practicing, either. As a reminder, all offseason work during this time is voluntary.

• We've got joints: While Raheem Morris held court in Flowery Branch Tuesday morning, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel did, too, in Miami Gardens. This is important to note because what McDaniel had to announce involves the Falcons. For the second year in a row, the Falcons will travel down to Miami, Florida to face the Dolphins in the preseason on Friday, August 9 at 7 p.m. ET. In the days leading up to the first of three preseason games, the Dolphins will host the Falcons at their practice facility for joint practices. With the game on Friday, that likely means joint practices will be held on the Tuesday and Wednesday before with an off day Thursday similar to last year's schedule. The Falcons will face the Ravens on the road in their second preseason game before returning to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to host the Jaguars in the final week of the preseason.

"Playing against a guy like Cheetah (Tyreek Hill) and Odell (Beckham Jr.), those guys, that's gonna be good for us to feel some speed three weeks away from the season," Jessie Bates III said. "I think that's always productive for us to have joint practices."

• New(ish) lineups: With the Falcons without a good number of key playmakers on Tuesday it meant those in attendance had the chance to see some new faces working with the (would-be) first teams. In the secondary it was most notable with Clark Phillips III and Mike Hughes slotting in outside, and DeMarcco Hellams partnering at safety with Bates. Dee Alford continued to play in the slot.

On the other side of the ball, Chris Blair had a good number of reps at wide receiver with the Kirk Cousins, Drake London and Kyle Pitts lineup.

• Avery Williams, PR/KR/RB: Avery Williams' 2023 season ended before it began. Coming off a year in which he led the league in punt return yards, Williams was looking forward to another productive year in the league as a true special teams asset. A season-ending knee injury halted those plans in their place. A year later, Williams is back, healthy and hungry. In practice he works with the running backs, getting a notable number of reps both rushing and catching the ball out of the backfield. Does this mean Williams will be getting live reps at the position when the 2024 season gets here? Probably not. The Falcons already have their guys at the running back position, but the nature of the position most closely resembles what Williams will do as a return man, so it makes complete sense why he spends his time with the group.

A good problem to have: Terrin Waack spent her day keeping tabs on the inside linebackers, so check out her story for more ILB talk. However, I did want to zero in on the position, too. If you read our OTA report from last Tuesday's practice, you know I made note of the depth at inside linebacker with Kaden Elliss, Troy Andersen, Nate Landman and, recently added, JD Bertrand. I said then that it wouldn't be uncommon to see mixing and matching at the position, and that happened this Tuesday. In 7-on-7s, Elliss and Andersen spent the first session with the ones, while Landman and Bertrand were with the twos. Those pairings stayed relatively consistent as the team moved to 11-on-11s, but as the period went on, the inside linebacker duos would trade out playing with the first-and second-team secondaries. I still think it's only a matter of time until we see three-linebacker sets, too, with Elliss, Andersen and Landman, specifically.

• The young(er) boys line: As we know, defensive line rotations can sometimes look like hockey lines. Well, on Tuesday, those lines had a theme. The first group featured the veterans. So, consider the guys with four or more years experience. Think David Onyemata, Lorenzo Carter, James Smith-Williams and Ta'Quon Graham, with Kentavius Street and Eddie Goldman rotating in. When the full line switch happened, though, the group got noticeable younger. So, consider the guys with less than four years of professional experience. Think Arnold Ebiketie, Zach Harrison, Ruke Orhorhoro and Bralen Trice, with Brandon Dorlus and DeAngelo Malone rotating in. I found this to be an interesting way to handle the rotation. Now, was this rotation consistent throughout the entirety of the practice? Not really. Will it be consistent beyond OTAs? Probably not. It was consistent enough for me to tell you about it, though.

• Something no one may care about but I'm going to note anyways: Since this new Falcons staff began running practice, there's been a noticeable addition to the sideline: a portable jumbo screen. On the screen is the all-22 film and after every play run, the screen will show the immediate replay. Coaches and players will look to the jumbo screen from time to time in order to catch a replay of what they were being asked to do the play before. I have to imagine it's a great teaching tool for coaches to make live adjustments on the fly. Again, no one may care about this but I know I love it, personally.

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