FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga --The overwhelming opinion from the rookies in the first isolated minicamp practice after last week's full-team minicamp was a higher rep count and the absence of veterans.
Monday's practice with the team's 25 rookies and five practice squad members saw a lot more hands-on coaching from the team's staff with its rookies. After last week's full-speed, in-depth practices, the rookies had a chance to return to the team's Flowery Branch facility and slow down, settle in, and learn all over again.
For the coaches it was a clinic on basics and fundamentals.
Quarterbacks Coach Bill Musgrave worked with rookie Richmond signal caller Eric Ward on his footwork and throwing mechanics.
Wide Receivers Coach Terry Robiskie reminded the wideouts to "keep their eyes up front" as they ran through their position drills.
Offensive Line Coach Paul Boudreau barked orders to his young linemen, instilling in them the expectation of toughness early on.
Defensive Coordinator Brian Van Gorder implored his cornerbacks to trust their reads during seven-on-seven drills.
The increased pressure and exposure without the veterans around was the major difference in one minicamp to the next for the young Falcons. Five rookies offered up a progress report from their few short weeks thus far in the NFL:
"Last week with all the veterans things were going real fast and you were trying to get what you can. Today was nice. I'm happy we have these coaching sessions. Things slow down and you get a chance to see things slower. I need to learn from this and try not to make these same mistakes twice which I did a couple of times today. That's unacceptable."
-Shann Schillinger, Safety, Sixth-round pick, Montana
"Going into last weekend's minicamp I came down here not really knowing what to expect. Having the veteran guys here last week helped us know the plays and what to do on certain routes because they've been in the league for a while so they know tricks. This minicamp with just the rookies is a better experience because we can take what they taught us and put it into this against the other rookies. And then just learn all over again because the plays went pretty fast last week."
-Brandyn Harvey, Wide receiver, Undrafted Free Agent, Villanova
"Every practice you get under your belt you start to get a little bit more confident. You start to figure out that you're here for a reason and you can play with these guys. You've just got to hold your own and keep battling for a spot."
-Mike Johnson, Guard, Third-round pick, Alabama
"It's difficult [learning the playbook]. It's something you've really got to commit yourself to. It's not anything that is impossible, but you're definitely not going to get it just by going to the meetings. You're going to have to take it home, read over it, and study and study it. ...It hasn't happened yet. I'm hoping it only takes a couple of weeks. We'll keep going with the flow and keep studying tonight and I'm sure it'll come to me eventually."
-Corey Peters, Defensive tackle, Third-round pick, Kentucky
"I'm a little bit more comfortable with the terminology and knowing exactly what's going on. But it's a little bit different not seeing the veterans out here and seeing the way they do things. It made it a little bit tougher for us. But I think once we get the rust off we'll be doing fine tomorrow."
-Sean Weatherspoon, Linebacker, First-round pick, Missouri
The Falcons will continue to conduct rookie minicamp through the remainder of this week before bringing the complete team back together for OTAs on May 25.