Falcons conclude veteran minicamp

Jimmy Cribb/Atlantafalcons.com

Thursday marked the final day for Falcons minicamp and the team worked out for two hours in the mid-morning. This was also the final day of offseason workouts which means the players will have a break before reporting back to Flowery Branch in late July for training camp.

But before the Falcons ended minicamp, they made two important roster moves as they traded linebacker Akeem Dent for Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates. The Falcons also signed linebacker Tim Dobbins who also played with the Texans last season.

“We’re always calibrating out roster,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “This was an opportunity that came up for us. We felt like it’s going to create a very competitive atmosphere. We appreciate what Akeem has done for us the last three years. This is part of the business.”

Yates, who won a playoff game with the Texans, was added to have a reliable backup for Matt Ryan just in case something were to happen this season.

“You always want to have a backup quarterback that has played games,” Smith added. “T.J. has played in games. He has played in big games. He’s an experienced player and we look forward to getting him here.”

Dobbins is an experienced linebacker that has spent four seasons in San Diego, one season in Miami and three seasons in Houston. He is coming to a team that has a few players that are looking to start in inside linebacker.

“That’s going to be an interesting dynamic when we start training camp,” Smith said. “We got two guys that started for us last year. We got Prince Shembo who we are exacted about. And Dobbins has a lot of experience and has games under his belt.”

Dent was a standout player on special teams. But now that he’s gone, Dobbins will have to pick up the slack and be a key contributor other than just defense.

“Dobbins has been a good special teams player,” Smith said. “He has played more special team snaps than defensive snaps.”

One player that will not have to worry about positional battle is Ryan who was available to the media on Thursday. He talked about the dynamic of the offensive line and how they have looked so far during OTAs and minicamp.

“Our offensive line has done a really nice job,” Ryan said. “The one thing that Mike [Tice] preaches is communication at the line of scrimmage and you can hear those guys talking and making sure they are on the same page.”

One of those offensive linemen is 2014 first round pick Jake Matthews and while he was pleased with the way the unit worked this offseason, he knows that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

“We all have to get better,” Matthews said. “That is one of the things Coach Tice said before we left. He said we did a lot of really good things this offeseason, but this time off focus on what you need to work on to make yourself better.”

Technically, the Falcons don’t have time off because they will have the opportunity to work out in the team weight room, which will be open every day expect for the Fourth of July. And when Smith asked how many of his players will be taking part in the workouts during the team meeting Thursday morning, he was amazed by the show of hands of who will be attending.

“It’s very important for us to not lose the gains that we have made in the weight room,” Smith said. “We can’t take this month off. We got to continue to work.”

Ryan echoed what Smith said, but Ryan also said that some time off will help the players be mentally focused when they have to report to training camp.

“It’s good to be mentally fresh,” Ryan said. “But it’s imperative that you stay in shape and keep training the way that you have. I’m confident we have the right group of guys that are going to do that.

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