Rookies sign deals, OTA’s set for Tuesday

The Falcons closed their three-day rookie minicamp on Sunday and five of the nine 2014 draft picks were signed to deals (all defensive players). Four of the signees were linebackers as Prince Shembo, Marquis Spruill, Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr agreed to deals. The fifth was cornerback Ricardo Allen, Atlanta’s fifth-round pick. Shembo was the highest selection inked on Sunday and the 137th overall pick (fourth round) and former Notre Dame linebacker had a solid rookie camp.

The top two Atlanta picks reached deals on Wednesday as first-round pick Jake Matthews and second-round selection Ra’Shede Hageman inked their first contracts. Seven- of-nine rookies have reached agreements and just third-rounder Dezmen Southward and fourth-round pick Devonta Freeman await their rookie deals. Rookie camp was about as basic as it gets, but the team will begin diving deeper into the playbook in June to prepare for Sept. 7, its first home season opener in five years against one of its biggest rivals, the New Orleans Saints.


OTAs will begin on Tuesday and the rook-ies will take the field with the veterans and the team will begin preparing for training camp and the regular season. Following Sunday’s rookie minicamp, Falcons head coach Mike Smith mentioned players that won’t be taking part in OTAs or will be limited and Sean Weatherspoon and Julio Jones were both brought up. Atlanta started the most rookies in the NFL last season on defense and Weatherspoon is one of the few veterans left on the defense that can mentor the rookies. After the first OTA session May 27-29, the second phase will go from June 2-4 before the final OTA session on June 10-13. Manda-tory minicamp is slated for June 17-19 and that will prepare the team for training camp in July.


The new Atlanta stadium officially broke ground on Monday with a spectacular ceremony to mark the occasion. Local celebrities and big names from across the sports world were in attendance as the surrounding excitement and initial stage of construction accumulated.The presentation came complete with a 3D presentation and firework show that lit the sky from the Falcon-shaped stage.

FAMILY TRAGEDY … On the eve of Day 3 of rookie minicamp, Falcons receiver and four-time Pro Bowler Roddy White’s half-brother Tyrone Moore Jr. was gunned down and killed outside a nightclub in James Island, S.C., White’s hometown.

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