Ryan, quarterbacks look to improve in camp

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The Atlanta Falcons will hold their 2009 training camp sponsored by Russell at the team's Flowery Branch headquarters for the fifth consecutive year. Atlanta's 44th training camp will have select morning and afternoon practices open to the public from Aug. 1 – Aug. 14. AF.com will provide a position-by-position look at the roster with some notes to get you ready for the 2009 preseason. Today... Quarterbacks.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Out of all positions on the Falcons roster, quarterback may be the least flashy when it comes to preseason position battles.

What a difference a year makes.

Matt Ryan was named the team's starting quarterback before the start of the 2008 regular season but not before he battled Chris Redman and D.J. Shockley for a job. This year, Head Coach Mike Smith doesn't expect such a wide-open competition.

"There's going to be a lot of competition out there for roster spots but that's one of them I think is pretty much sewed up," Smith said. "In terms of Matt, I think he's going to continue to mature. I think all great quarterbacks in this league -- the ones that play consistently from year to year -- are great decision makers and accurate with the football. I think those are things Matt wants to focus on here in this offseason.

"I think Matt has a real good understanding of what we want to get done as a football team, not only on the offensive side but the defensive side and special teams. Matt has an understanding of the big picture and I think that's really important."

Some notes on the team's quarterbacks and competition...

No. 2 Matt Ryan
6'4" | 213 lbs. | Experience: 2The 2008 Rookie of the Year enters training camp as the team's starting quarterback. Ryan said he's worked on his accuracy and decision making during the offseason in an effort to avoid a slip in numbers. The sky's the limit for the quarterback, who threw for 3,340 yards and 16 touchdowns (11 interceptions) as a rookie. More impressive? Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey's assertion that Ryan had more options at the line of scrimmage last season than any quarterback he's worked with.

No. 3 D.J. Shockley
6'0" | 213 lbs. | Experience: 3The former Georgia star spent 2008 as the team's No. 3 quarterback after a year on injured reserve. Given the team's quarterback changes in 2007, Shockley may have had a chance at playing time were it not for a torn ACL. But he's made a name for himself in the community and as a vital part of the team's quarterback meeting room. The competition at quarterback will be for backup positions and Shockley's arm strength should make for an interesting training camp.

No. 4 John Parker Wilson
6'2" | 218 lbs. | Experience: Rookie

Wilson had a solid career at Alabama, competing 664 passes for 7,894 yards and 46 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide went 12-2 last season with victories over three top-15 opponents. He's the school record holder in attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. Wilson threw at a workout attended by Mularkey (then coaching for the Dolphins) and the offensive coordinator told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution* *the rookie has experience in a "pro style" offense.

Chris Redman
6' 3" | 229 lbs. | Experience: 7Redman was under center as the Falcons won the 2007 finale and provided some positive moments at the position during some lean times (he threw a career-high four touchdowns in that win over the Seahawks). The team re-signed him prior to 2008 and he served as Ryan's primary backup for all 17 games last season. He did not take a regular-season snap but has 17 career touchdown passer and a 79.5 quarterback rating. He filed retirement paperwork prior to 2007 but has seen his career -- and role as a mentor -- come alive in Atlanta.

TRAINING CAMP FAN GUIDE:

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