Falcons back to the grind, the old way

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) runs through a drill during a workout at the football team's practice facility in Flowery Branch, Ga., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) runs through a drill during a workout at the football team's practice facility in Flowery Branch, Ga., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Credit: David Goldman

Credit: David Goldman

The Falcons’ first full practice for the Super Bowl was a back-to-business-as-usual deal, truly, unlike they way they went about their work during a bye week before playing Seattle in the divisional round of the playoffs.

They know they’re playing the Patriots on Feb. 5, where a couple weeks ago they were awaiting results from the wild-card round and didn’t know their next opponent.

So, where that bye week was spent on self-evaluation and improvement, coach Dan Quinn, coaches and players this week are going full bore as if their next game was Sunday.

“Just the opposite. We’re going to try to put in as much as we can this week in terms of our game plan,” he said. “We’re going to follow our weekly format … and then as we get into our next week, we’ll have some minor tweaks but not much.”

This is fine with players, some of whom would rather not have a bye week at all.

“Just being able to rest up helps, but me personally I want to play,” right tackle Ryan Schraeder said. “I like playing every week, but nothing is going to change. It will actually be good for us this time around because we get two weeks of game-planning.”

Fullback Patrick DiMarco is on board.

“This is definitely a huge work week for us where we’re prepping before the true madness begins,” he said. “It’s really nice to get focused and locked in before we get to Houston.”

Tickets, sleep hard to come by

Kicker Matt Bryant said that he’s waded through the bulrushes of ticket procurement for family and friends in Orange, Texas.

“It’s definitely nuts because I’m only 90 minutes down the road, so yeah, there’s a lot of that going around,” he reported. “There’s a possibility of getting up to 15, and then if you can find some from other players. I’ve already done that. I needed some more, but that process is over with now. Just back to practice.”

Outside linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., meanwhile, said that the vibe has ramped up vs. what it was before last week before the Falcons played the Packers in the NFC Championship game. He said it’s been harder to sleep.

“Yeah, it is; I’m very excited,” Beasley said. “I’ve just got to stay on an even keel and understand that we still have a game to play.”

Sage teammate Dwight Freeney, who’s going to his third Super Bowl, has offered some advice: “Yeah, just don’t make the moment bigger than it is,” Beasley said. “Just trust the process and enjoy the moment.”

Keeping an eye out

Quinn said he and the staff are monitoring players, particularly younger players and anyone who’s never played in a Super Bowl, to be sure they’re keeping their cool. Falcons officials are trying to help players anticipate what to expect.

“We try to simulate at times what some of the media questions could be,” the coach said. “We do try to train them, tell them that the media can only jam you up if you allow them to.”

Falcon Flashback

The first time Atlanta went to the Super Bowl, running back Jamal Anderson put the team on his back, almost literally. He rushed for a franchise-record 1,846 yards in 1998 on an NFL-record 410 carries, and scored 14 rushing touchdowns.

As he broke out that season, he told the Journal-Constitution that he was groomed for success, and it showed in the way he handled media – like a cool cat.

His father, James, had worked as a security guard over the years for Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Donna Summer, to name a few celebrities, and Sugar Ray Leonard was a family friend.

So, he didn’t have issues handling media questions. Celebrity left him uncowed.

“I remember they said, ‘Ray is coming to your (Pop Warner) game, and I was like, ‘Cool. I’ll have to score a couple touchdowns,’” Anderson told the AJC. “And then when I didn’t score, I was furious. We won, but I didn’t score.”

Quinn-ism of the day

Much of the national media descending upon the Falcons this week isn’t familiar with the head coach and his talking points. So when he was asked about one of them Wednesday, he laid it out there.

“’Bringing the juice,’ is providing the energy for yourself, for your teammates, and for everybody here,” Quinn said. “Sometimes, you’ve got it and you’re going to help bring somebody along. There’s other days where you don’t have it and the guy next to you is going to help bring you along.

“Then, there’s days everybody has it, and those are the days to lookout.”

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