July 29, 2018
On Sunday, we saw the first padded practice of Training Camp. The first open practice in Mercedes Benz stadium. AND, the first official, public opening of the roof.
Videos and pictures can be found on our Facebook page, or just videos from the day on our YouTube channel (Falcon Alley24). Both links can be found on our home page.
Together We Rise Fan Day was held inside the Benz Nest. Gates opened at 10 and the roof was set to open at noon, and official practice at 12:30. First, what a great event! 60,000 fans streamed in to The Benz Nest on a sunny Sunday in July for FOOTBALL!!! The highlight was, of course, the first official opening of the roof.
Sunday literally felt almost like a game day. Most fans had on gear, likely toned down, but shirts, hats, jerseys. The Porch was open and full before practice started. Once you entered The Benz Nest, all the music and video boards and concession stands were running as normal. 92.9 The Game was in attendance to cover the pre-game and many of the drills and events of the day. Harry Douglas was on hand to participate in those discussions, as well as to meet fans. Wes Durham, typically on the airwaves, was on the field providing commentary for some of the practices. Wes was announcing what many of the drills were going to be or explaining the mini scrimmages and teams.
During the 12ish minute opening of the roof process, the video boards told a history of Atlanta and of the Falcons. It was a great presentation of information while you watched the sun beam in and onto the field. Freddie Falcon was on the field, basking and moving around in the sun stream. It was interesting to see what would be covered in sun around 1:00, a normal kickoff time. Especially since it was hitting the opposite side of the field as my regular seat. As the opening continued, most of the team came out and started their personal warm-ups as well as some drills. Eventually, most of the field was under the sun as well as part of one quarter of the stadium. As the team began quick runs and ball handling drills between the goal line and the 20, the roof was closed, with no pomp and circumstance. Many of us just happened to see it closed and tried to see if anyone noticed as it was closing. It is a very quiet process and worked to perfection on the opening and closing on Sunday. It actually opens, only directly exposing the field, sidelines, and lower rows, so if it was raining, straight down, most of the stadium/seats would still be covered. But to see that blue sky, it was really awesome.
Takk McKinley and Ito Smith did not practice.
Sunday’s Together We Rise training camp day was filled with the usual drills, individual team workouts, and 7 on 7 game day situations at both ends of the field. I have many videos on my YouTube page (link at the bottom of our Homepage) of the practices with my commentary.
From my training camp experience, this was a typical practice, the variety of drills all over the field. Most of the day, the offensive line was to the side working on their own stances, drills, and blocking schemes, while the rest of the guys moved in and out of a variety of drills or mini scrimmages. There were passing drills with all four quarterbacks passing to four different receivers, each being covered. Some were short passes, others high, others to the edge of the end zone. Keanu Neal was able to tip a ball and create an interception under Austin Hooper. Duke Riley in tight coverage was beat by Terrance Magee. Desmond Trufant got a big roar by not allowing Julio Jones to haul in a pass. Tru has looked much better already this year. He was injured for the second half of the SuperBowl season, but seem either not confident or fully healed last season, but in the off season this year, he has already looked more impressive, from early workouts, to mini-camp, to Sunday.
Keith Armstrong was working his special teams hard as well. Not the kickers, but the coverage. They practiced with Matt Bother or Georgia boy David Marvin running up to kick, and then the coverage team practicing blocking and returning with the new kickoff rules. Naturally, Matt Bryant came out and kicked a few field goals – most of which went through, he did have one from the 50+ that hit the goal post and popped back in to the field of play, but we all know how rare that is.
In drill mode, the defense went against itself in passing drills, so basically 2 defenders were competing for passes lobbed up by coaches. The defensive line worked on barrel drills.
During 7 on 7 play, the offensive line started off slow. While there was a big pass to Julio, in real time, the new 99, Terrell McClain would have sacked Ryan before the ball was released. The defense definitely came out aggressively. Brooks Reed caught RB Justin Crawford in the backfield. Ryan faked the handoff to Devonta Freeman, then passed up to Freeman, who was immediately stopped. De’Vondre Campbell made a stop in the backfield. Finally, rookie WR Christian Blake had a good catch and run. FS Marcelis Branch had a good pass breakup. The offensive line stepped up for a number of plays after they got into a rhythm.
Check out the Falcons’ twitter for Ricardo Allen’s mic’d up practice, upbeat and entertaining.