Rookie minicamp asks Atlanta's first-time pros to process a lot of information in a short amount of time, but after a fast and high-tempo Day 1, head coach Dan Quinn was confident his players accomplished exactly what they had set out to do.
"Awesome day out there (Friday)," said Quinn. "At the end of practice I told them it's been a long time since bowl practice. There were some tired guys out there. But it was great to see them work and really that's the first part of it. We are looking for the guys that have the grit and the toughness and the finish."
Playing fast and finishing is a philosophy of Quinn's that this group of rookies will be fluent in by the time training camp rolls around, but this is also an important time for each individual to use both mental and physical reps to their advantage as they prepare for looming position battles.
Third round draft pick and former Indiana running back Tevin Coleman has a chance to compete for a significant role in the Kyle Shanahan offense this season and the athleticism and downhill running he showed this first day exhibited the traits that the new playbook is looking for.
"You could really see his [Coleman's] speed (Friday)," Quinn said. "He's a guy that can set the edge and then put his foot in the ground and cut. … In this system we are running our wide field and that's what we are going to be looking for."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound running back looked the part, but stepping on the field for his first NFL practice still provided the All-American back with a "wow" moment as it sunk in he was about to buckle up for the first time as an Atlanta Falcon.
"Last night I was just like, man, this is it right here," Coleman said Friday. "This is what I dreamed of. I am here, so let's get it rolling."
Adapting to the speed of the NFL is widely-recognized as the biggest challenge facing rookie running backs like Coleman and any newcomer entering the League for that matter, but an 'every rep' mentality is what Coleman plans to use throughout the offseason to prepare for the change.
"The speed changes because it is bigger guys, better guys and faster guys so of course it will be different," Coleman said. "You just have to go hard every play and every down"
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was Atlanta's fifth-round pick and there was a lot of interest in seeing how the 304-pound interior lineman would look his first day.
Adding to the excitement was ProFootballFocus.com, which released its 10 Biggest Draft Steals for 2015 list Friday morning and placed Jarrett at No. 1. Jarrett's toughness and ability to finish at the point of attack was seen in his college tape leading up to the draft but it was exciting for Quinn when he could see it first hand on the practice field.
"This guy has grit," said Quinn on Jarrett's first practice. "One of the things that jumps out on tape is man does this guy know how to finish and it started right at individual drills today and all the way through the end of practice and I was really pleased about that."
Second-round pick Jalen Collins did not practice for precautionary reasons surrounding the 6-foot-1 cornerback's foot, but he made sure to take in the valuable mental reps he will need for his upcoming debut.
"We are just being cautious with it (my foot)," Collins said. " I'm just trying to learn everything that I can and learning all the calls and helping each other."
Minicamp continues this weekend with temperatures expected to flirt with the lower 90's and that will continue to help Atlanta's rookies condition themselves for what is sure to be a long and competitive offseason.