Falcons kickoff 2014 training camp

Jimmy Cribb/Atlantafalcons.com

After a long offseason, the Falcons were back on the field for the first day of training camp on Friday at their headquarters in Flowery Branch. The players and the coaches were eager to get back on the field after a 4-12 campaign in 2013 and head coach Mike Smith thought the first preseason practice went well.

“We had the rookies for a couple of days and we were able to work with them a little bit and now we got to work with the veterans in terms of trying to get the first three days in shorts and helmets done so we can get into some padded work, which we haven’t done in a long time,” Smith said.

With the first training camp practice open to the public, fans got to see a glimpse of what the 2014 Falcons will look like. And one of the positive things they saw was the return of Julio Jones. The receiver from Alabama has not seen any action after injuring his foot in Week 5 last year. But Jones was cleared to practice a few says before camp began and he looked like he was in mid-season form.

“He was running routes very well,” Smith said. “I thought the timing between he and Matt [Ryan] was good. “It was great to see Julio back on the field. And when you look on the other side of the field and see 84 out there, think the entire coaching staff was excited seeing both those guys.”

No. 84 is of course Roddy White who signed a four-year contract extension worth $30 million. White, who has been with the team since 2005, is excited about the new deal and he did not imagine playing with one team, or playing in the NFL for this long.

“At first I wanted to play five years,” White said. “But over time when you get to this point, it’s been really good. We won a lot of games, especially since Coach Smith got year. It’s been a heck of a ride.”

It’s been quite a ride for the Falcons since Smith took over the team in 2008. Out of the six seasons Smith has been the head coach, the Falcons have suffered only one losing season, which came last year. So training camp this year should have a different feel to it because the Falcons know they have to be more crisp and more efficient every day they come out on the field, right?

“It doesn’t feel different,” Smith said. “You’re first day of practice is in the top five in terms of days that you like. I think the intensity was good. It still think we have to learn how to practice.”

Steven Jackson, who is looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled season, was glad to be back on the field so they can erase the 2013 season as quickly as possible.

“We are all eager to get that season behind us,” Jackson said. “We want to get that nasty taste out our mouth. We all know what we have here, we have to go out there are prove it.”

Smith mentioned that the team has to be more intense every time they step on the field. But if was like the first day, they could be the most intense team in the NFL because first round pick Jake Matthews and Kroy Biermann, who missed nearly all of last season due to a torn Achilles tendon got into a scuffle.

“They were probably just going through a feeling out process,” Smith said jokingly. “Kroy has not been able to be out on the field and I’m sure he’s excited. And I’m sure Jake is not going to back down from anybody. I imagine we’ll have those types of battles all throughout training camp.”

The Falcons will practice every day next week except Wednesday starting at 3:30 p.m. and all practices will be open to the public.  Next Friday, they will have their annual Friday Night Lights event at Archer High School, which will start at 6:45 p.m.

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