Falcons get ready for Bengals


The Falcons are in the thick of training camp as they have had nine practice sessions in the last 11 days.

Fans have been making their way to Flowery Branch to get a glimpse of the 2013 edition of the Falcons. But the biggest crowd the Falcons have had so far in training camp was not even at Flowery Branch.

On Friday, the Falcons took their show off-campus when they hosted their annual Friday Night Lights event at Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park Stadium in Gainesville. Nearly 15,000 fans were in attendance to see the Falcons scrimmage as well as get autographs.

This was an important practice for the Falcons because it was the first official scrimmage of the preseason.It was more important for the young players because the coaches wanted to see how they would do in game situations.

“We’re looking to make sure everyone is good on their assignments, and the second thing is the execution,” Smith said after practice. “We know there are going to be some guys making mistakes, but we need to make sure we’re making them full speed.”

Some of the players that stood out at the scrimmage were tight end Chase Coffman, cornerback Peyton Thompson and linebacker Brian Banks who was just glad to be part of this after all the things he has been through the last few years.

“Just to be a part of this, for people to call your name and have people that support you is incredible,” Banks told atlantafalcons.com. “For people wanting to be a part of the crowd of people that said ‘I believed in him.’ To me, that’s so big. I’ve seen both sides of the human spirit when people downplay, degrade you and humiliate you. To be here now when people want to be a part of your forward progression, it’s a blessing and I thank God every day.”

Banks and the rest of the young players will have another chance to impress the coaches starting on Monday when the Cincinnati Bengals come into town for a combined practice. The Bengals will practice with the Falcons on Monday and Tuesday before they open the preseason against each other on Thursday at the Georgia Dome.

Falcons fans will get a chance to see how the team looks against a squad that went to the AFC playoffs last year. The Bengals are balanced on both sides of the ball and like the Falcons, they are one of the teams that could make a deep run into the postseason.

The most interesting thing about the Bengals is they have seven players are the roster that went to school at UGA. Those players are Robert Geathers, Dennis Roland, Clint Boling, Shawn Williams, Geno Atkins, Orson Charles and A.J. Green, who will not participate this week because of a knee injury he suffered last week.

Those seven players along with Andy Dalton, James Harrison, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap will give opposing teams fits all season long, which is why this will be a good early test for the Falcons.

Even though the Falcons will do some work with the  Bengals on Monday and Tuesday, Smith stressed that it will be just like any other training camp practices.

“It’s not really a scrimmage,” Smith said after Sunday’s practice.  ”It’s a practice.  We’re going to be practicing against one another.  We want the tempo of the practice to be the way that we do it and the way that they do it.”

Many of the starters for both teams won’t see too much action during the preseason game, but they will take plenty of snaps during the two practice sessions. For fans, each practice will start at 3 p.m. and will end around 5:30 p.m. The preseason game on Thursday will kickoff at 8 p.m. and will be nationally televised on ESPN.

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