FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - The Falcons wrapped up their fourth session of organized team activities on Wednesday, and the team continues to work to get up to speed for the upcoming mandatory minicamp and, beyond that, training camp later this summer.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the Falcons' latest on-field practice for OTAs.
No Julio? No problem
Dan Quinn and Matt Ryan were each asked about the continued absence of star wide receiver Julio Jones, and they pretty much had the same answer for the media: They aren't too worried about it.
"With where he's at in his career, his familiarity with the offense, his understanding of the timing, rhythm – all those things with me – I think if anybody can get back on the same page fast, it's him," Ryan said. "Julio knows our offense, he knows where to line up. He knows what route combinations we're going to run, the details of the route. Hell, he teaches a lot of our guys the routes, too. He knows what he's doing. He's in extremely good shape right now."
The expectation at this point is that Jones will return to the team for the start of mandatory minicamp, which will take place June 11-13.
For more on what Quinn and Ryan had to say about Jones' absence, CLICK HERE.
Ridley continues to impress
With Jones out, rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley has drawn plenty of attention. During the two-minute-drill portion of practice, Ryan twice looked Ridley's way, and the rookie out of Alabama secured both passes to help the offense get into position to kick a field goal as time expired.
"He's done a great job," Ryan said of Ridley after practice. "What I've seen is excellent transition in and out of breaks, it's as good as anybody I've been around. He's got very good hands. He's smart, we put a lot on these guys early in OTAs as far as knowing different positions, knowing where to line up, different route combinations, adjustments that we have versus certain coverages. He's picked up all that stuff really well. You can tell he's been well coached prior to coming into the NFL."
CLICK HERE to read more about the ways in which the Falcons' first-round pick has impressed his coaches and teammates thus far.
Coleman expects a heavier load in 2018
Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman have been one of the league's top tandems at running back for the past few years, and they both bring plenty of versatility to the table. Coleman, especially, has proven to be a threat as a receiver, and he believes he will get an opportunity to shine in that role a bit more this season.
"They are just going to use me more ... lining up out wide and stuff," Coleman said of his expectations for this year. "It's going to be pretty fun."
Check out the rest of Coleman's thoughts on the upcoming season, HERE.
NFL's new approach to tackling won't faze Falcons
Following the recent rule change that now makes initiating contact with the helmet a 15-yard penalty with the potential for ejection, the subject of tackling has become a hot topic around the NFL.
Since Quinn's arrival in 2015, the Falcons have taught a technique meant to remove the head from the act of the tackle, which is the focus of the league's new rule. In this way, the Falcons were way ahead of the curve.
"Well, No. 1, I've been a big proponent of a leverage-based shoulder tackling technique for a long time," Quinn said after Wednesday's organized team activities (OTAs). "So, it's something in our program that we've really tried to teach hard. For you guys to understand it better, I think the main thing is when is the helmet used to initiate contact? And you say, 'Dan, that unusual, it could be a center and a nose tackle.' That's not really where the rule is. It's more when there's time and space and an offensive player or a defensive player has the decision that they can put their head to the side and use their shoulder. You teach that anyway, but in the heat of it, you've seen some examples where we haven't done that as well as we want. It's going to take a hell of a lot of teaching and continued work on that, but, for us, I feel like it's our responsibility to teach it the best."
Learn more about the Falcons' approach to tackling, HERE.