FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Falcons receiver Drake London has started his first NFL training camp strong. The No. 8 overall NFL Draft pick has created consistent separation, made several big plays downfield and has looked comfortable working outside and in the slot.
London still says there's an adjustment to the NFL game, with the biggest a common refrain among rookies: the speed of the game.
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That's not always physical. It's how fast you must process information, how fast others read and react. And, as is often the case, those experienced, scheme-savvy veterans are also quick. And they'll prey on your hesitation.
"That's what all of us rookies are going through right now, trying to slow it down and get to the right assignments, the right plays and get a feel for everything," London said after Wednesday's practice. "I feel like we're progressing in that area right now."
The question that almost always follows statement about the speed of the game: When does it slow down.
London's answer was interesting. It's happening in real time, essentially with every experience that's repeated. If you're learning constantly and working on scheme mastery, every repetition is a chance to get just a little better, for the game speed to decelerate.
"Day by day it starts slowing down," London said. "Here and there you'll notice it, on certain plays. That especially true if you run the same one. Compared to the first time, maybe you're looking at the defense a certain way. There are little things like that helping me and other rookies along the way."
Top-tier opposition is helping London as well. He's tested most every day when facing first-unit cornerbacks A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward, savvy players at or near the top of their games. London relishes those opportunities when present, trying to take as much as possible from each experience.
"I've learned a lot of things," London said. "This whole experience is a learning process, and every day going against the caliber of guys we have, including Casey and A.J., is helping me a lot as we go through this process."
Roddy White in the house
Legendary Falcons receiver Roddy White came to Wednesday's practice and spent most of it talking to Terry Fontenot on the sideline. He was also able to catch up with London after practice.
Wednesday camp standouts
It wasn't a great day for the Falcons offense, with some drops and inaccurate throws, but there were a few standouts. Qadree Ollison was one, with a few nice plays. That included a long run down the sideline where he hurdled a defender.
Defensive lineman Derrick Tangelo continues to show up in practice and is flashing among a group of intriguing young defensive lineman. He batted a ball at the line of scrimmage – he wasn't the only one to do so – and created backfield pressure in team drills and a one-on-one rep where he showed both power and solid push. Timothy Horne also had his moments, which could make for a battle on the back end on the defensive line rotation.
DeAngelo Malone has shown quality elusiveness, quickness and burst off the snap, including a masterful one-on-one opportunity where he blew right by a tackle.
Deion Jones update
Smith addressed Deion Jones' recovery while on the physically unable to perform list on the first day of training camp, and then said he'd provide an update in a week's time. The man was true to his word.
Smith said the inside linebacker is "trending in the right direction," but still doesn't have a timetable for when he'll be cleared to practice. Jones reportedly had shoulder surgery this offseason.
Getting stronger and working harder as we continue into Week Two of AT&T Training Camp!
News and notes
Arthur Smith said that he'd like to see his offense connect on more deep shots in training camp. They have the quarterback arm strength and receiver speed to do so, but haven't completed enough of them.
"I think the quarterbacks are throwing the ball pretty well," Smith said. "We have to hit some of these deep plays.
"...I've been pleased with the disruption at the line of scrimmage. That goes both ways. Guys are starting to bat balls. We're starting to get our hands on some things, and we have to continue – and vice versa to work it on the offensive line – but there's been really good competition. I'm very pleased with the way that 98 percent of our guys are practicing right now."
Drew Dalman was the first-team center on Wednesday, continuing steady a rotation at that spot between him and Matt Hennessy. LG Elijah Wilkinson continued his run as the first team left guard over Jalen Mayfield, with so many consecutive days that it's losing its newsworthiness. "I think Elijah's playing pretty well," Smith said. "There are certain things that Jalen needs to continue to do better. Once he does that, then we'll see how it plays out."
... DT Anthony Rush and RB Damien Williams missed Wednesday's practice, but Smith said the Falcons have different plans for different players. He also added that Rush was okay. Bryan Edwards practiced for a second straight day while wearing a yellow jersey that is believing to signify non-contact.