Five things learned from Falcons’ last scrimmage Thursday
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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) prepares to throw a pass during an NFL football training camp practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday, September 3, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
With the roof open at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons held their final scrimmage of training camp Thursday.
The media was allowed to watch warm-ups, but not the scrimmage.
However, after the scrimmage left tackle Jake Matthews and fullback Keith Smith met with the media virtually and discussed some of the highlights.
“It was high energy,” Smith said of the atmosphere. “Blessed to get through another training camp. I think guys were just itching to hit somebody else for a change. We didn’t have (any exhibition) season (games) this year, so we didn’t get to see any fresh faces and hit anybody else.”
The starters received more work in the previous scrimmage Aug. 28.
“It went well,” Matthews said. “We scrimmaged, what was it a week ago and we got 30 to 40 plays, and that’s what I was expecting. But it went a little quicker than I thought.”
The offense was sharp, and the offensive line is starting to come together.
“We moved the ball,” Matthews said. “As a group, as an offensive line, we’ve grown so much. Just coming that far and feeling more together and comfortable with each other, it feels good. I’m excited for next week and preparing for the real deal.”
Now, the Falcons have until 4 p.m. Saturday to trim the roster from 79 players to 53. Then, they will attempt to fill their 16-member practice squad.
The Falcons open the season against Seattle at 1 p.m. Sept. 13 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Here are five things we learned from scrimmage No. 4:
1. “The Todd Gurley” shined. Running back Todd Gurley didn’t get as much action as he did in the previous scrimmage, but he flashed on a big run again.
“He’s been looking good,” Matthews said. “On the first play he went for about 10 yards. It was impressive. I’m really excited to have him on our team. Every day watching him has been kind of special. I think he’s going to do a lot of really good things this year.”
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter
Smith is Gurley’s primary lead blocker.
“Todd’s energy is infectious,” Smith said. “He’s a real positive person. Positive player. You see what he brings to the table out there at practice. When you saw him last week in the scrimmage and even this week, he didn’t get much burn in this last scrimmage, but you see why he’s Todd Gurley. The Todd Gurley.”
The Falcons didn’t have a 100-yard rusher in any game last season.
“I’m excited about what he brings to the table,” Smith said. “He works hard. He’s a great teammate. He’s always trying to bring as many people with him as possible. That’s kind of what you need to win.”
After Gurley departed, the backup running backs took over.
“I’m excited because we got so many horses in the stable,” Smith said. “It’s going to be cool to see.”
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter
2. Carpenter at left guard. During warm-ups, James Carpenter was in at left guard for Matt Hennessey, who is working his way back from a knee injury.
3. Injury report: In addition to Hennessy, rookie defensive tackle Marlon Davidson (knee), safety Ricardo Allen (ankle), wide receiver Russell Gage (undisclosed) and linebacker Mykal Walker (undisclosed) did not dress for the scrimmage.
4. Hofrichter boomed some punts. Falcons punter Sterling Hofrichter hit a 42-yard punt that had a very good 4.98 seconds of hang time during warm-ups. From the 50, he hit a 42-yard flop punt that had 4.34 seconds of hang time on it. Gunners could have gotten down the field and downed the punt at the 6-yard line.
5. Captains named: Quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones, center Alex Mack, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, linebacker Deion Jones and safety Ricardo Allen were named team captains for the 2020 season.
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the award-winning Atlanta Falcons beat writer for the newspaper, has been on the staff since 2003. Every day D. Orlando strives to provide inside in the Falcons and the NFL. He finds the most joy in providing insight into the team, the coaching moves, the offseason business moves, the draft and the games.