Falcons have zero-tolerance fighting policy for joint practices

FLOWERY BRANCH — When the Falcons take the field to practice against the Jets on Friday, the team is set to enforce a zero-tolerance no-fighting policy.

“I’m only concerned with our team,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said Thursday after practice. “When you’re competing against another team, you can’t fight in the game. It’s not tolerated. Somebody gets heated, does it, there’s got to be consequences.”

ExploreMore AJC coverage of the Falcons

Five players were kicked out of the joint practices between the Patriots and Panthers on Wednesday. The Falcons are set to practice against the Jets on Friday and Saturday before playing in an exhibition game at 8 p.m. Monday at MetLife Stadium.

“So, I don’t know how to enforce it other than that; do you have somebody who’s got a problem?” Smith said. “An emotional-control problem, that’s probably somebody who you don’t want on the field in real games, either, because they’ll be a liability. You get off the field on third down, and they get a personal foul. It usually goes hand in hand.”

Smith is looking forward to facing the Jets, who were 4-13 last season and are in their second season under coach Robert Saleh.

“There are a lot of different teams, different players and different schemes,” Smith said. “You’re working on kind of situational stuff, contingency plans, but it’ll be fun. We’re looking forward to going up to New York practicing with the Jets and playing Monday night, and then we’ll have Jacksonville in here next week.”

Smith didn’t want to reveal his lineup plan for the game. The Falcons will close the exhibition season against Jacksonville at 3 p.m. Aug 27 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Smith doesn’t look at either game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season.

“That’s so much surface old-school, conventional wisdom,” Smith said. “I don’t know how many people really do that. You’ve got to do what’s best for your team. And the way you’ve got to map things out, depending on what day you play.”

The Falcons open the season against the Saints on Sept. 11 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons lost their season opener to the Eagles 32-6 last season.

“So, I don’t know what the dress rehearsal is,” Smith said. “It’s like a mythical creature that I’m not sure really fully existed, but I’m sure somebody said it, and everybody ran with it.”

HBCU tandem: Falcons wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and outside linebacker Quinton Bell both played at Prairie View A&M, one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Hodge is working with the first-team offense and Bell with the second-team defense.

“I think they’ve done well,” Smith said. “Good players. Different experiences to get to this point. I’m really pleased with both of them.”

Jets’ front: One of the items to watch is how the Falcons’ offensive line works against the Jets’ four-man defensive line. The Falcons have been going against their 3-4 base defense for all of training camp.

“You get to see a different scheme,” Smith said. “Guys do get tired of blocking the same guys every day. So, it will be fun to look at a different group. It’s a four-down front, a penetrating front schematically, a little bit different, so it’d be fun.”

Center update: Drew Dalman and Matt Hennessy still are battling for the starting center position.

Dalman played 28 offensive snaps (50%) against the Lions, while Hennessy played 13 snaps (23%) and Jonotthan Harrison played 15 snaps (27%).

Attendance: Defensive tackle Marlon Davidson and wide receiver Drake London (knee) were the only players not at practice Thursday.

Smith would not say if London is traveling with the team to New York.

“I’m not going to comment on guys that may or may not practice,” Smith said.

The Bow Tie Chronicles