ROOKIE CAMP: New Falcons engage in first team activities

This week, some college kids are donning their caps and gowns grabbing their diplomas. Some are now planning their summer in an internship, and some are planning an extended vacation before beginning life in the real world. In Flowery Branch, though, former college football standouts are off campus and reporting for the first of two Falcons’ three-day rookie minicamps.

Here’s the skinny: the practice sessions will be held Friday through Sunday (but are closed to the public). The Falcons staff is expecting 46 players in all to participate. The players will be made up of the 2012 draft picks and signed free agents, tryout players and Falcons’ first-year players that had minimal or no time logged on the game day active, inactive and reserve “lists” over the 2011 season.

The story lines up near Lake Lanier are pretty clear. How good will the draft picks look? Is the All-American guard/center peter Konz from Wisconsin, the 55th overall pick in the draft, a people mover and does he arrive and assume the role of alpha male? Is Konz’ former teammate, fullback Bradie Ewing, ready to take over for the recently released Pro Bowler Ovie Mughelli?

Among the free agents, the question is, “Who can possibly ascend from the unwanted on draft weekend to potentially grab a roster spot and hopefully make a contribution on the field this fall?” Remember, it’s always possible that a free agent can sneak into the minicamp and in a few years become a franchise player like Brent Grimes.

Coaches will also be looking to judge how much the first-year players have improved with a season of NFL-level coaching.

Another story line will be the opportunity for products of the local schools. Aron White caught four touchdowns for Georgia last fall despite splitting time in very deep tight end rotation. Wide receiver Tyler Melton was good enough to start 35 games over his career at Georgia Tech, but didn’t see a lot of balls thrown his way in coach Paul Johnson’s spread offense. Also in Flowery Branch is a speedy cornerback/return man from Clark Atlanta, Harcourt Farquharson.

The last story line may be the most exciting of all. Head coach Mike Smith will be stalking the sidelines, general manager Thomas Dimitroff will be watching intently behind his sunglasses and athletes will be making plays all over the field, It’s going to be another weekend of football action –even if the fans can’t see– at the Falcons’ headquarters. And come Sunday afternoon, we’ll be one more weekend closer to opening kickoff on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Kansas City.






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