Inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Friday the Falcons held their third team scrimmage and final practice of AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.
The scrimmage was meant to create a game-like atmosphere, giving players and coaches the chance to test out their pre-game and half-time routines inside of the stadium. The players were split into two teams for the scrimmage with the offensive starters and reserve defenders wearing white and the starting defense and reserve offense wearing black.
It proved to be a competitive, high-energy practice for Atlanta and the two sides ended the scrimmage tied at 14. Here are some of the notable takeaways from the afternoon:
Great start from the first-team offense
The Falcons' starters took the field first during the scrimmage, and the offense already looked to be in game-day mode. Beginning their drive near the 20-yard line, the offense quickly moved closer to midfield with a big run to the right by Todd Gurley and a pass to Calvin Ridley on a crossing pattern.
Another great run from Brian Hill behind left guard moved the Falcons' offense into opposing territory, and the unit then showed its quick-strike ability. Behind good protection, Matt Ryan delivered a perfectly placed pass to Ridley on a deep route down the right sideline for a long touchdown. Rookie corner A.J. Terrell was guarding Ridley and was running step-for-step with him for most of the route until the third-year receiver hit a final gear and found space in the cushion he created near the sideline.
Todd Gurley looks sharp at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
What knee problems? In his first action at Mercedes-Benz Stadium as a member of the Falcons, Gurley showed off his speed, agility and vision to break off several nice runs. He scored the second touchdown of the afternoon for the starting offense, taking a goal-line carry off the right end and diving between two would-be tacklers to make it to the end zone.
Impressively, he took one handoff during the scoring drive and, seeing the middle of the field was clogged up, turned and sprinted towards the left sideline. He outran contain and got the edge despite not having any blockers out on the left-hand side of the play to buy him time. It was a display of how quickly Gurley could reach top speed and it did not disappoint.
Matt Schaub can still sling it
On his first drive of the second half, Schaub showed exactly why he's still good enough to serve as Matt Ryan's primary backup. After faking a handoff, Schaub sidestepped a rusher and uncorked a perfect deep ball to rookie Juwan Green for a 74-yard touchdown. Green had a couple of steps on his defender and Schaub's pass hit him right in stride.
The defense never caught up and Green took it the distance. Schaub proved last season that he is still up to the task of playing quarterback in the NFL when he threw for 460 yards in his lone start against the Seahawks, but he gave the coaching staff a reminder on Friday.
More camp observations
LaRoy Reynolds has been effective as a blitzer throughout camp and that continued on Friday. He came through the line unobstructed and had a clear shot at Matt Schaub just as he was preparing to throw the ball. Luckily for Schaub, this was only a scrimmage.
Near the end of the first half, the first- and second-team defenses showed up. A sack by Deone Bucannon on a blitz and a batted ball at the line of scrimmage got the second-team defense off the field. On the final drive for the starters of the first half, the defense forced a three-and-out with nice plays by Grady Jarrett, Takk McKinley and Isaiah Oliver.
It was a good practice for Luke Stocker, who had a couple of catches that went for big gains and was a reliable blocker in the run game. Hayden Hurst also made a nice catch on a deep seam route while matched up against Keanu Neal.
Calvin Ridley set up Gurley's touchdown run with a really nice catch down the right sideline on a deep ball. He set up Kendall Sheffield with a fake run block before sidestepping him and taking off down the sideline.
Jamal Carter picked off Kurt Benkert in the third quarter, diving in front of the receiver to make the grab. In the final play of practice, down in the red zone, Charles Harris came free off the right side of the defense for a would-be sack of Benkert, who rolled out to his right and threw a pass that was picked off by Blidi Wreh-Wilson.