Falcons, Jets battled Friday before settling in for practice

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Things escalated quickly in the first practice between the Jets and the Falcons on Friday.

There were two minor skirmishes before a pretty good ruckus broke out. The Falcons’ offense and the Jets’ defense retreated and circled up.

Falcons coach Arthur Smith talked to the Jets’ circle, and cooler heads prevailed. Both teams got in the work they wanted when they decided to hold the practices.

“It was fine,” Smith said. “You’re always are going to have that. It was some peacocking while they were running around each other. It was nothing.”

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Smith and Jets coach Robert Saleh talked about the skirmishes and settled down the teams. No one was kicked out of practice, but Jets defensive end Bradlee Anae was seen throwing punches.

“We settled it down,” Smith said. “We had really good work.”

The Falcons and the Jets discussed the workouts when the exhibition schedule came out in May and thought they set clear parameters with the squads.

“I appreciate their staff,” Smith said. “We got a lot of good situational work. We had a two-minute drill before the end of the half. ... It was good work. Different schemes. Different fronts. I thought we held up pretty well.”

The Falcons’ defense appeared to have a rough outing, which included being sliced by veteran quarterback Joe Flacco and by rookie running back Breece Hall on a 75-yard touchdown run.

Smith concentrates on the offense and didn’t see how the defense was operating. “I’ll have to watch the film on that,” Smith said.

Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski felt things went relatively well for the defense.

“It was good,” Kwiatkoski said. “Like any other day, there’s something that we need to fix. Something to go watch and get corrected. But there were a lot of good things as well.”

Kwiatkoski (undisclosed injury) and rookie linebacker Troy Andersen (hamstring) were held out of the exhibition opener against the Lions. Both are hoping to play Monday against the Jets.

“That’s what they are pushing for,” Kwiatkoski said. “I went out there today and felt good. We are working through some things. We’ll see.”

Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett wasn’t alarmed by the big plays.

“We have to consistently build to get where we want to be,” Jarrett said. “We’re excited about it. We’re excited about what’s ahead for our defense. We’re in a good spot.”

Jarrett was happy to get some work against the Jets’ offensive line.

“It’s definitely tough in the trenches,” Jarrett said. “It’s been cool playing with these guys. We love to get after quarterbacks.”

Jarrett was credited with one sack, but may have had a few more.

“They gave me one,” Jarrett said. “I’ll take what they gave me, but they need to watch that tape. It’s all good. It’s been a good day.”

Cornerback Dee Alford continued to work at nickel back with the first team defense. The former Canadian Football League all-star was at 160 pounds when the Falcons signed him to a futures contract. He’s bulked up to 180 pounds and is making a strong bid to make the team at a position of need.

“We just have to see what he can do,” Smith said. “He’s earned the opportunity for more reps. We’ll continue to work with him, see if he can earn a job and see what his role can be.”

Falcons quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder played well.

“There’s always things we’ve got to work on,” Smith said. “I mean, some of the stuff because it’s not live, some of the play extensions. ... They had the refs out here. So, it’s good to coach off some of the flags.”

Ridder was intercepted by Jets cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, but it was nullified by pass interference. There were some holding calls, too.

“I thought there were some good things and things we can build off of,” Mariota said. “All in all, it was great to just come out here and get work against another opponent and all, and I thought we did fairly well.”

Mariota particularly enjoyed the move-the-ball situations.

“That feels a little bit more like a game,” Mariota said. “You just run seven or eight third downs in a row.”

Mariota had an up-close view of the skirmishes.

“That’s kind of how it is, especially during camp,” Mariota said. “Guys are tired of hitting each other, and you feel like you’ve got to take it out on other people. All and all, once things did settle down, I thought as an offense we settled down as well and made plays.”

Overall, Smith was pleased with the work.

“It went pretty well,” Smith said. “There was a lot of posturing to start it out, then it settled down, and we had a very productive day.”

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