Falcons kickoff minicamp

Jimmy Cribb/Atlantafalcons.com

The Falcons began their mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. They started with a walkthrough in the morning which was closed to the public. In the afternoon, the Falcons took part in the first live practice of minicamp which was open to fans.

Normally, when the Falcons have their minicamps, it marks the beginning of the offseason program. But because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, minicamps are pushed back later in the year and it marked the end of the offseason program.

The offseason schedule was one thing that was different from last year. The other thing that was different is the fact the Falcons, or any other NFL team for that matter, did not have an offseason program. So it was interesting to see Julio Jones, who is in his second season, get some work in with Matt Ryan during the offseason.

“It’s great to have Julio here in the offseason program,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “We anticipate his maturation process is going to go real quick. The arrow is going to go up and up with him as well as all of our skill players.”

One of the things that was noticeable is the enthusiasm and energy that was felt from all of the players. The reason for that could be the fans seeing the team for the first time, the fact that the team was not going through OTAs or it could have been the fact the optimism for the upcoming season is very high.

“We had fans out here today which changes the atmosphere a little bit,” Ryan said. “It was a good start to out minicamp and we have a lot of work to do before we are done.”

Having the fans see the players like Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White and Sean Weatherspoon for the first time in 2012 is good. But there were a couple of new players that fans were anxious to see and those two players are Lofa Tatupu and Asante Samuel.

Tatupu, who was a pro bowler when he was with the Seattle Seahawks, did not play a down last year and he realizes he has work to do to get his body in shape.

“At a certain point I stopped working out,” Tatupu said talking about finding a place to play last season. “I was ready to send those papers in. When it came around this year, my agent called me and said ‘Hey do you want to go play’ and I said ‘Absolutely.’”

Samuel was acquired via trade before the draft and he brings a swagger that this defense has been missing for a long time.

“I think I bring a little bit to it,” Samuel said when talking about the defense. “I look forward to making a lot of big plays in this defense.”

The Falcons made a lot of moves in the offseason to make the team better. But Smith likes the fact some of the veterans players that could have gone to a different team like John Abraham and Jason Snelling were on the field in Flowery Branch on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are going into our fifth year, and we got to sign our draft picks that we drafted,” Smith said “If we’re doing the right thing early on and drafting the right players, you want to resign them. You can’t resign them all because that’s impossible with the salary cap. But I really like what Thomas [Dimitroff] and his staff did to restock this roster as we move forward.”

The Falcons will have another walkthrough Wednesday morning and will have practice Wednesday afternoon. The morning session will be closed to the public while the afternoon practice will be open. The Falcons will conclude minicamp on Thursday morning and that session will be open to the public.

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  1. Falcons kickoff minicamp – Atlanta News Blogs - June 21, 2012

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