5 things we learned from Falcons’ open OTA session

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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Falcons assistant Dean Pees on the defense improving next season.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Falcons are in Phase 3 of their offseason program and held their first open session Thursday.

Here are five things we learned:

1. Injury report: Falcons coach Arthur Smith gave an injury report, which included that linebacker Deion Jones (shoulder), fullback Keith Smith (knee) and defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (knee) are out for the offseason. They are expected to be ready for training camp.

2. Williams to running back: Returner Avery Williams, who played some nickel back last season, was moved to running back. “Let’s try him on offense and see what he can do,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said.

3. Mariota the mentor: Quarterback Marcus Mariota said he had no problem with mentoring rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder. “I always kind of view that relationship in the quarterback (meeting) room as kind of important and special,” Mariota said. “I always felt that a good quarterback room can allow everybody to be better and allow everybody to grow.”

4. Raiders reunion: While the Falcons have added several former Bears and Titans, they also added three key members who played for the Raiders last season. In addition to Mariota, they traded for wide receiver Bryan Edwards and signed cornerback Casey Hayward.

5. Inside linebacker groupings: With Deion Jones out for the offseason, the Falcons had Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker paired together at the inside linebacker spots in their 3-4 alignment. They also had rookie Troy Andersen working with Dorian Etheridge.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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Falcons assistant Charles London discusses the OTAs.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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