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D. Orlando LedbetterD. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons make Hard Knocks debut tonight at 10 p.m.

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FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons, who are having their most spirited and colorful camp in years, are set to debut on HBO’s Hard Knocks at 10 p.m. tonight.

Rob Gehring, who has worked the last 20 years for NFL and is the supervising producer and director of HBO’s Hard Knocks reality show, and his crew have been hard at work.

HERE’S SNEAK PEEK: The Day one fight between rookie Jake Matthews and Kroy Biermann is featured. The Rook threw the first punch.  

HBO has robotic cameras all around the facilities and a 30-member crew to document Hard Knocks, the 11-time Emmy winning sports documentary show.

Falcons Hard knocksBefore shooting they did some background work on Falcons running back Steven Jackson and rookie linebacker Tyler Starr, a seventh-round pick and longshot to make the team. Jackson suffered a hamstring injury early in camp, so it will be interesting to see if they still followed him.

Once players are injured, the Falcons, as a bizarre policy, bar injured players from talking to the local media who regularly cover the team.

Also, Falcons owner Arthur Blank has been at camp for the last eight days, a franchise-record. In the past, he usually just drops by for a few days, he said on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio last night.

We’re pretty sure that he’ll be on the show.

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Falcons coach Mike Smith after a recent practice.

HBO is hopeful the Falcons will draw in viewers.

“In the beginning when Steve (Sabol) wanted to do this show, he wanted to show how hard it was to make an NFL roster,” Gehring said. “He always loved the content of these guys at the back end of the roster, the 53rd man. Sometimes it’s a seven-round pick. Sometimes it’s an undrafted guy. He always really liked that.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith had a chance to review the episode this morning. He doesn’t have any control over the content, but has some say over the anything that falls under “competitive balance” like signals or audible calls.

With all of the fights – I loved them – it has been a Hard Knocks camp so far. If the Falcons don’t rebound this season, at least they are going to put up a fight.

“I think that physicality is an emphasis point that we’ve been talking about not only at the beginning of training camp but also at the end of the season,” Smith said. “The first thing we evaluated was that we needed to be a more physical football team, and you can’t just say you’re going to be a more physical football team you’ve got to go out and do it and prove it every day.”

Smith believes he and the coaching staff are managing the tough camp well.

“There’s a fine line between overwork and underwork,” Smith said. “You want them to be just right and as healthy as possible. But at the same time when your main goal is to be more of a physical football team you’re on a fine line every day. You’ll hold your breath as a coach.”

We’ll be back here around 9:30 p.m. with a Hard Knocks open thread if you’re interesting in blogging and tweeting (@DorlandoAJC) with us as the show is televised.

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