Falcons new and old meet for OTA’s


Wednesday marked the second day of Falcons OTAs, as they start their first week of three-day workouts. This also serves as the first times the veterans and rookies have worked with each other on the field since the draft earlier in the month.

As you would expect from the second practice featuring veterans and rookies, head coach Mike Smith saw some positives and negatives.

“It was better than the first one (Tuesday OTA’s),” Smith said. “The guys have a better understanding. This was the second day our rookies and veterans got an opportunity really to work together. I thought there were some bright spots and things we’ve got to get fixed.”



Wednesday also served as the first day for newly signed defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson to be on the field during our media viewing session for the week. Soliai as expected is getting first-team reps as the team’s nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. Jackson is the team’s starting left defensive end in this base front. Jackson says that he’s been relying on Soliai’s knowledge of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s scheme.

“He played in this defense a couple years back in Miami and he’s able to help me transition a little bit faster than I was expecting,” Jackson said of Soliai. “I’m relying on that guy a lot, because he’s played in this league for a long time.”

Soliai and Tyson Jackson come to this team, as part of an offseason plan to get the Falcons bigger and stronger on both the offensive/defensive lines. Whether pressure comes with being an emphasis for that change, Soliai says he’s not looking at it that way.

“I kind of take it as I’m just happy to bring my talent here,” Soliai said. “I’m blessed that Atlanta gave me another opportunity to play. I’m here, I’m really thankful, and I’m just ready to play.”

On the offensive side of the ball, first-round pick Jake Matthews has been plugged into the right tackle spot on the field. This is not a surprise given that general manager Thomas Dimitroff said on the night Matthews was drafted that he would be slated to be their right tackle. New offensive line coach Mike Tice is encouraged by what he’s seen out of Matthews in the early going, especially with the mature approach he brings both on and off the field as a rookie.

“He knows how to prepare as a young guy, he knows how to take notes, and knows how to ask the right questions,” Tice said. “He doesn’t like making mistakes, so he’s very diligent in that regard. So who are we kidding, are we going to make a competition for him?”



The Falcons did not have wide receiver Roddy White on the field for practice on Wednesday. About a week and a half ago, White’s younger brother Tyrone Moore Jr. was shot and killed outside a South Carolina nightclub. Roddy has been given time to grieve the loss of his younger brother.

Wide receiver Julio Jones was also absent from practice on Wednesday. He is not expected to return to the field until at least training camp, after undergoing season ending foot surgery in 2013. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is trying to recover from a knee issue and is also not participating in OTA’s. However, he continues to be a vocal presence from the sideline, by yelling play calls to the defense and coaching the inside linebackers as they come off the field. In his place on the inside of the linebacker group, second year players Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu are getting plenty of first team reps.

Another note from Wednesday’s OTAs is that Kroy Biermann is solely playing outside linebacker and former defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi is lined up on the opposite side of Biermann with the first team defense.

Second-round pick and defensive end Ra’Shede Hageman is getting second team reps as a defensive tackle in nickel defense situations. His base defensive work is coming as a 3-4 left defensive end with the third team at the moment.

Falcons will wrap up this week’s portion of OTA’s on Thursday.


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