The Falcons’ offseason program ended with the completion of the minicamp on Thursday.
“I think it’s been a great offseason for us,” Falcons tight end Jacob Tamme said. “The mindset of the guys is in the right place.”
Here’s what we learned from the Falcons’ minicamp:
1. Offensive line shining. Falcons coach Dan Quinn was pleased with the work of offensive line coach Chris Morgan and his unit.
“The way they compete for one another,” Quinn said. “That group has totally put the work in and it shows. So, for them, there’s going to be some battles along the offensive line. I’ve been really pleased with that group.”
2. Tamme’s terrific. Tight end Jacob Tamme had a strong offseason catching the ball and working on his blocking. His 59 catches last season were the second-highest total of his career.
“I really feel like my best years are still in front of me,” Tamme said. “Which is a good feeling to have at this point in my career. That’s an exciting thing for me.”
He believes the offense made some major strides.
“I feel like I’m well ahead of where I was at this point last year,” Tamme said. “That’s something that I’m pretty jacked up about.”
3. Learning sessions were fruitful. The Falcons were able to take their lessons from the meeting rooms to the field.
“Very few mental errors, which is something that you’re always looking for as a coach,” Quinn said. “We threw a lot at them.”
4. Major experimentation. The Falcons had some major experiments with position changes and other player projects.
Now, the must figure out which ones to move forward with.
“We tried to find who had the versatility to play more than one position,” Quinn said. “We had some (strongside linebackers) play (defensive end) and (defensive ends) play (strongside linebacker). We moved (Courtney) Upshaw around.”
There was experimentation on both sides of the ball.
“We wanted to see if outside receivers could play inside, so having that versatility was probably the big thing,” Quinn said. “We played some of the linemen at three different spots. (Tom) Compton played both tackles and guard. (Wes) Schweitzer played all three inside spots. Finding that versatility amongst the new players especially was really important.”
5. Allen comfortable. Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen, who was moving to free safety from cornerback last season, is clearly more comfortable.
“We are much more polished,” Allen said. “We have better communication. We know the defense inside and out now.”
6. Neal impressive. Several assistant coaches and players sang the praises of rookie safety Keanu Neal.
He’s impressed Richard Smith, Jerome Henderson, Marquand Manuel, Desmond Trufant and Ricardo Allen. They all had glowing reports on the rookie. Normally, there’s one blemish or a “he needs to work on this and he’ll be fine.”
But nothing came back on several checks on Neal.
“We can see the mental quickness and the speed that he plays with,” Quinn said. “We track all of the plays that he was targeted on whether it was zone or man and throws to his side. He’s really been on point.
The Falcons drafted him to replace William Moore. They don’t want to rush him into the starting lineup before he’s ready.
“We knew the learning part was going to be important one over that short window that we get with the rooks,”
Quinn said. “He’s worked extremely hard getting ready … We’re counting on him to have a huge role for us.”
7. Injury report. Falcons wide receiver Devin Fuller, the team’s seventh-round pick, suffered the most serious injury of the offseason.
He pulled a hamstring in rookie minicamp and missed the rest of the offseason program. He’s running now and has about two more weeks before he’s cleared.
Right guard Chris Chester (shoulder) and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (tendinitis knee) returned from injuries to participate in the minicamp.
Returner Devin Hester (foot surgery) also missed all of the offseason program.
Quinn said he’s expecting everyone to be healthy for training camp.
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