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What you need to know entering Falcons training camp

Here's a primer containing key dates, open practices and what to watch for at Flowery Branch this summer

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Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts #8 listens to quarterback Matt Ryan #2 in the huddle during organized team activities on June 16, 2021.

The Falcons have had an eventful offseason. They've hired a new head coach and general manager. They conducted a pivotal draft and traded a franchise mainstay. They've installed new offensive and defensive schemes.

And now, after all that, it's time to play (okay, practice) some freaking football.

AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp has finally arrived.

The Falcons stay right there on campus, homing focus on their profession for nearly three weeks before heading south for inter-squad sessions with the Miami Dolphins. Then they wrap the preseason while whittling a 90-man down to the prescribed 53. It's a fascinating process worth watching in great detail as the Terry Fontenot-Arthur Smith regime starts its first campaign.

Here's everything you need to know about this year's camp, from key dates to position battles to how you can come see the Falcons work.

Falcons camp calendar

July 27 – Players officially report to training camp

July 29 – The first official practice takes place in Flowery Branch

Aug. 3 -- Falcons practice for the first time in pads

Aug. 7 – Dirty Birds Open Practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 2 p.m. (Click here for more information)

Aug. 13 – Preseason game: Falcons vs. Tennessee Titans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Aug. 17 – Falcons break camp, leave for inter-squad practices vs. Miami; Falcons must trim roster to 85 players

Aug. 21 – Preseason game: Falcons at Miami

Aug. 24 – Falcons must trim roster to 80 players

Aug. 29 – Preseason game: Falcons vs. Cleveland at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Aug. 31 – Falcons must cut roster to 53-man regular-season limit

Open practice dates at IBM Performance Field: July 31, Aug. 1, Aug. 3, Aug. 4, Aug. 5 (all practices start at 9:30 a.m.; gates open at 8:30 a.m.)

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What to watch for

Matt Ryan: The 36-year old franchise mainstay will lead the Falcons into his 14th training camp, and be as important as ever to the team's fortunes. Does Matty Ice still have what it takes? The Falcons believe he does.

Kyle Pitts and 2021 NFL Draft class: Which rookies will make an immediate impact? No. 4 overall pick and tight end Kyle Pitts certainly will. What about beyond him? Jalen Mayfield (guard/tackle), Drew Dalman (center) and Avery Williams (returner) are prime candidates to do so.

Arthur Smith's first camp as head coach: How will the players take to his leadership? How will they execute new schemes? Smith will be a major player in this 2021. If he can get the players headed in the right direction, the Falcons could be competitive fast.

Position battles aplenty: There will be competition for starting spots at several positions, including left guard, center, cornerback and safety. Some might develop on the defensive line as well. The Falcons certainly hope so, considering they need more from that position group.

The pads coming on: The Falcons practiced without much contact during the offseason program. All that changes on Aug. 3, when they finally put pads on and start hitting (though live tackling must wait for preseason games). That will provide a clearer picture of where the linemen stand and offer a small progress report on a Falcons run game featuring Mike Davis. The inter-squad sessions with Miami will be super important this summer, offering a rare glimpse of established starters in a game-like environment.

Atlanta Falcons players arrived on Monday for 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.

A fan cheers at players from the Delta Club field level patio, during AT&T Military Appreciation Training Camp at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday August 4, 2019. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Atlanta Falcons)

2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: Dirty Birds Open Practice

WHEN: August 7th

WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

TIME: 2:00 PM ET

The 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: Dirty Birds Open Practice entertainment, including cheerleaders, drumline and Atlanta Falcons Legends, will kick-off when gates open and fans are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy Mercedes-Benz Stadium's award-winning food & beverage experience offering fan-first prices.

Tickets for the open practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be $5 each and all proceeds will go to the Emory Healthcare's research and discovery programs.

Due to the current NFL protocols around COVID-19, there will not be opportunities for player autographs.

Stay tuned here for more information!

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