The Falcons came out strong for the last day of veteran minicamp, which was held Thursday morning in Flowery Branch.
Ask any offensive lineman suited in a Falcons uniform what his top priority is and he'll tell you protecting No. 2. Keep Matt Ryan clean and upright will be the true secret to the Falcons success in 2014, more than health, a run game or anything else. As Ryan goes, usually, the team will go as well.
With minicamp wrapped up, the Falcons are about to take a few weeks off before they reconvene in late July to begin training camp. A new offensive line coach in Mike Tice and at least two new starters in Jake Matthews and Jon Asamoah have been added, so plenty of change has taken place. One other change is a heightened sense of communication among the front five and that's something Ryan sees improving with his protectors.
"I think our offensive line has done a really nice job during the OTA period as well as during minicamp," Ryan said Thursday. "From a communication standpoint, we've got a few changes from what we've done around here in the past and those guys are working through those changes. I think one of the big things that Mike preaches is communication at the line of scrimmage. You can hear those guys talking a bunch and making sure they're on the same page."
A battle appears to be set to take place at center between Joe Hawley and Peter Konz, while Sam Baker back and healthy should help at left tackle. Justin Blalock remains the line's ironman at left guard. O-line play was clearly a focus in the offseason and the changes should bring different results. Ryan's happy with what he's working with and after a deserved break for a few weeks, he's anxious to return and get back to work with the five guys that give him the time to make the offense go.
"I see really good things out of them and I'm excited to take some time off and get some rest before training camp, but also excited to get back here, get the pads going and get those guys going," Ryan said.