Falcons survive toughest day of training camp

Jimmy Cribb/Atlantafalcons.com

Day 3 of Falcons Training Camp is in the books and it also concludes the first weekend of camp for the 90 players on the roster.

The third day of training camp for the Falcons always falls on a Sunday and while the first day of camp can be rough because of the weather and players trying to get back in the groove, head coach Mike Smith says it does not compare to Day 3.

“I told the guys last night in the meeting that usually the third day is the toughest day,” Smith said. “Your body isn’t used to what’s happened the previous 48 hours, but I thought they handled it fairly well. I don’t believe we finished as well as we needed to in practice, but there were some really good, competitive moments in the first part of the practice.”

One of the better competitive moments was Desmond Trufant going against Julio Jones, who was back at practice after taking yesterday off.

“He’s probably the best receiver I’ve seen so far,” Trufant said. “Going against a guy like him everyday only gets me better. And hopefully he feels the same way. Hopefully, I can give him a good look too.”

Even though Smith did not like how practice ended, he was pleased with the way the offensive and defensive lines progressed compared to what they were last year.

“As I said yesterday, we’ve gotten bigger and stronger on both sides, added new players through the draft and through free agency, and the guys that are returning are bigger and stronger,” Smith said. It’s going to be scrutinized every single day, and I think you’ll see the depth chart will change maybe not on a daily basis but every couple days. We want to look at as many combinations as we possibly can.”

One combination that won’t go away is the duo of Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow. Both players were rookie free agents last season and were just trying to find their way onto the roster. Now they are looked as the leaders of the defense and the expectations are high for them to succeed.

“It’s better being on this side of the fence,” Bartu said. “Last year, it was brand new. We were struggling. We trying to learn the plays and execute techniques. This year, we’ve already had one go-round and we’re trying to prefect our techniques.

Smith has been impressed with Bartu and Worrilow so far in training camp, but he’s also been pleased with the way the rest of the linebackers have performed.

“We got some hands on some balls today, which is a positive thing,” Smith said. “With these guys, I think their heads are still swimming a little bit. The install in the offseason is not nearly at the pace that we’re going through right now, but it was good to see. I thought that LB Prince Shembo made a nice play on the ball.”

The next phase of training camp begins on Monday as it will be the first day the players will wear pads. This means the practices will be more physical and the evaluation process will become easier.

“We’re getting as close as you can get to playing real football,” Smith said.  “You can’t go off of one day. You can’t go off of three days. That’s why we have four pre-season games before we play our first regular season game. We’re looking forward to watching those guys compete not only in the lines, but all across the board.”

The Falcons will practice on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday starting at 3:30 p.m. at their headquarters in Flowery Branch. All practices are open to the public.

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