Falcons enter August soaring with confidence

Photo by AtlantaFalcons.com

Friday marked exactly one week into the 2014 training camp for the Atlanta Falcons. To mark the first Friday of the preseason, the franchise held their annual ‘Friday Night Lights’ event at Archer High School in Lawrenceville.

So far, the Falcons are thinking positively about the way that camp has gone to this point. Players are happy to have guys like wide receiver Julio Jones back on the field. Plus, the addition of rookie right tackle Jake Matthews has seemingly made players on the offensive side of the ball confident that the line problems might be a thing of the past. On the defense, new additions of defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai have players feeling good about the defense being able to get in the quarterback’s face on a more consistent basis.

Veteran players like wide receiver Harry Douglas went through the struggles of the 4-12 season in 2013. The good news for him is that he put up a career high 85 catches, with over 1,000 yards receiving, and a pair of touchdowns. Bad news, they were eight games under 500 to end the season. He believes a humbling year, has led to great team work ethic.

“We’re progressing at a high level,” Douglas said. “We’re doing all the little things right. That’s showing up to meetings on time, working hard every day out the practice field, and doing the right thing off the field. I think we’re heading in the right direction and it’s going to do nothing but get better.”

Douglas is part of an offense that lost the aforementioned Julio Jones for much of the season in 2013. Fellow wide receiver Roddy White also missed some time and played hurt on a high ankle sprain last year. Plus, the team went through a good portion of 2013 without then newly signed running back Steven Jackson because of a hamstring injury. Now, the Falcons add a veteran playmaker in wide receiver Devin Hester to the fold. Douglas thinks the offense will do great things this season.

“In the heat of battle of trying to become perfect which is impossible to be perfect, you become great,” Douglas said. “I think that’s where we’re getting to on our offense, with a couple of guys that have been in the offense for a long time now along with (quarterback) Matt Ryan. We’re trying to perfect things and become great at it.”

Hester joins the Falcons after spending the first eight years of his career with the Chicago Bears. He is known very well for his kick/punt return abilities in the NFL. He will help the Falcons as a receiver as well and he thinks that he’s already developing a good report with Matt Ryan.

“Matt is a great guy to work with, you couldn’t ask for a better quarterback than Matt,” Hester said. “He’s helping me out a lot and getting me involved a lot in the offense. I’m hoping for a big year for me this year, as well as the team.”

On the defense, safety William Moore and company are hoping to improve as a group. This is a defense that allowed an average of about 379 yards and 28 points per game. Plus, opponents completed approximately 66 percent of their passes on 244 yards in 16 games. That was enough to rank them 27th in the NFL for total defense and 21st against the pass. Moore is trying to improve those numbers and he says during this training camp the defense is pushing it into overdrive in terms of work ethic.

“When it gets tough all these guys keep going,” Moore said. “We continue to fight. Training camp isn’t easy for any of us. We’re trying to figure out our roster, which guys we’re going to the season with and these guys come out there competing every day. I love this group of guys.”

Now the Falcons will practice over the weekend and then on Monday get their first opportunity to go up against the Tennessee Titans in a combined practice in Flowery Branch. This is followed by a scheduled off day on Tuesday, then leading up to Friday night when they take on the Miami Dolphins inside the Georgia Dome for their first preseason game.


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