After a break day on Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons have been again on the sphere in Flowery Department for his or her eighth follow of coaching camp on Friday. There have been a number of former Falcons legends amongst these in attendance, together with John Abraham, Ovie Mughelli, and Matt Ryan.
Ryan was flanked by his two younger sons – the Ice Cubes – and spent an excellent whereas at the beginning of follow speaking with head coach Arthur Smith in between the 2 follow fields.
“We love Matt,” Smith mentioned after follow. “I loved the hell out of the 12 months I started working with him. Dave (Ragone) and I keep in contact with him … I beloved having Matt out right here.”
That’s sufficient catching up, nonetheless. Let’s get to the most recent developments from Friday.
Jeff Okudah carted off the sphere
On the tail finish of 1-on-1 drills throughout an early portion of follow, Jeff Okudah, the previous No. 3-overall decide who joined the Falcons this offseason as their No. 2 nook, went to the turf after defending Frank Darby on a route. Gamers and coaches rapidly gathered across the gifted younger defender, and a cart was introduced out to take him to the locker room.
“You by no means actually know till you get an MRI,” Smith mentioned afterward.
There was not rather more supplied past that, because the Falcons’ head coach was cautious of offering any misinformation or pre-empting the proper option to relay such delicate info that impacts these near the participant.
Atlanta’s secondary has been a spotlight of camp to this point, and Okudah has undoubtedly been part of that positivity. Whereas it stays to be seen what the precise nature of his harm is, the pure inclination is to take a look at how the workforce might transfer ahead with out him.
“We’ve acquired plenty of depth at plenty of spots,” Smith mentioned, naming Cornell Armstrong, Clark Phillips III, Mike Hughes and Dee Alford by title earlier in his reply. “So, if we don’t get excellent news on Jeff, you’re feeling like we’ve plenty of depth.”
Within the quick aftermath of Okudah’s harm, it was veteran Tre Flowers who primarily stepped in reverse of A.J. Terrell.
Subsequent week’s joint practices in opposition to Miami will give the Falcons’ secondary a tricky take a look at. It might additionally present extra solutions about who will step up if the worst-case situation with Okudah involves go.
Aim-line passing appeared sharp
By means of the primary two weeks of camp, it’s largely been Atlanta’s protection drawing the lion’s share of consideration. For a minimum of the ultimate interval of follow on Friday, an entertaining goal-line session that featured pure drop-back units, the offense acquired the higher of the protection.
The primary two offensive items discovered the top zone a number of instances. Sadly, this was far past the allotted time for filming by the media, so there are not any clips from this drill. Nevertheless, listed below are among the highlights I jotted down.
- Desmond Ridder centered on Drake London, who was double coated at the back of the top zone, and he got here off of that learn too late to see an open Bijan Robinson on the aim line. His throw was off track, and a defender converged. Incomplete.
- Ridder was fast and decisive on his subsequent throw. He hit a fast and quick back-shoulder to Kyle Pitts, who was very effectively coated by Kaden Elliss in man protection. Landing.
- His best go of the session got here on the third and last play for the starters. Mycole Pruitt got here free on a slant on the aim line, and Ridder hit him between the 8 and the 5. Landing.
- Taylor Heinicke, who appeared sharp Friday, picked up proper the place Ridder left off. He hit Carlos Washington on a backfield display screen, and the rookie again strolled behind his caravan of linemen into the top zone. Landing.
- On the second play, Heinicke had to purchase a little bit of time within the pocket earlier than finally discovering Parker Hesse in the back of the top zone. Hesse’s catch drew large cheers from the offensive sideline, nevertheless it wasn’t the one one. Landing.
- Seconds after Atlanta’s offensive gamers have been herded again to their sideline, they have been charging again towards the top zone. In a really comparable trend, Heinicke discovered Josh Ali on the again line for a rating. Shoutout to Mack Hollins who was like an NBA bench hype man on these two performs. Landing.
“I assumed the offense appeared fairly clear,” Smith mentioned of the offense’s purple zone play. “I assumed we hit some fairly good pockets. Initially, for the offense, it appears to be like fairly good. As we get into the movie room and speak as a employees, we’ll see what the problems have been.”
Secondary continues to impress
Though Okudah’s harm was the most important takeaway from Friday, the play of Atlanta’s secondary continues to be noteworthy.
A.J. Terrell appeared just like the model we noticed in 2021, breaking apart passes and offering a private eclipse for the receivers in his protection. Jessie Bates and Richie Grant have been each very energetic within the coaching camp model of run protection, and the safeties have been largely spectacular throughout 1-on-1 drills. Micah Abernathy additionally made his presence felt as he seeks to stay round. The previous Volunteer was across the ball typically and doubtlessly recovered a fumble, though the play might have been dominated an incompletion.
Oh, and Clark Phillips continues to be a pesky gnat for any participant he’s up in opposition to. For a rookie, he reveals no concern, and it’s immensely endearing. I’ll be curious to see if he will get a real crack on the No. 2 nook function if Okudah misses a prolonged time frame. He could also be incomes one.
Godwin Igwebuike reveals off pace
One of many huge highlights for the offense unsurprisingly got here on the bottom. Newcomer Godwin Igwebuike, who the Falcons signed on Monday, took a handoff in an 11-on-11 interval and turned the nook across the left edge. As soon as he noticed daylight, Igwebuike turned on the jets and outran the protection for a landing.
As a rule, all run performs in coaching camp must be taken with a grain of salt, however this was the uncommon event the place it was very possible a landing by and thru. Given how loaded Atlanta’s backfield is, the play may not assist Igwebuike’s probabilities an excessive amount of, however he ought to have loads extra alternatives this preseason.
Quotes from Arthur Smith I appreciated
Offering context on how rapidly harm info can unfold and why he at all times desires to know all of the info earlier than talking:
“This is the reason I’m at all times hesitant due to the best way info travels, typically it’s important to be aware of individuals’s households or their family members or buddies. If dangerous info will get out, and God is aware of their dad and mom are taking a look at it or their spouse or whoever, you actually simply by no means know till you get an MRI.”
Looking forward to subsequent week’s joint practices and the way it will assist him consider his workforce:
“Miami is likely one of the sooner groups. It’ll be good for us to see a few of these matchups amongst different issues.”
Explaining why he strikes round continuously to varied positions teams and drills all through follow, regardless of having a background as an offensive coach:
“That’s the factor, everyone’s acquired their very own voice as a head coach or nonetheless your fashion is. I can’t separate myself into only one group. My background as being play caller has been on offense however on the similar time, to be a very good head coach, for my part – and once more, everyone’s totally different; you [can] speak to 31 different guys. I should be round the entire workforce. There’s sure issues that I feel should be addressed or I need to see.”
He was requested about how his offense modified from Yr 1 to Yr 2, and the way it would possibly once more develop in Yr 3 given the expertise available, and I assumed his reply is one thing everybody ought to take to coronary heart:
“We’ve clearly developed. This 12 months, we really feel like we’ve totally different strengths and we’ll see the way it goes. We’ve acquired our plan and we acquired to have the ability to adapt, too, if it’s not working, and have some flexibility. We’ve got plenty of methods we really feel like we will transfer the soccer.”
Arthur Smith has heard all of y’all’s positionless speak:
“I wouldn’t name it positionless, we acquired to line up someplace.”
Alright, that’s it for the information and notes from Friday’s coaching camp follow. I hope I did Kevin and Adnan justice, and I recognize you studying!