5 things we learned from Falcons’ OTAs 

Julio Jones and Matt Ryan believe center Alex Mack will help the offense immensely. (Photo by Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)



FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons  held their ninth and final OTA on Thursday.

All that is left in the offseason program is the mandatory minicamp Tuesday through Thursday. Training camp will start in late July.

Here’s what we learned during OTAs:

1. Special teams: Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong is looking to improve the units, which he called “average” last year. They were ranked 22nd in the league in 2015. 

2. Experimentation on defense: Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith looked at several linebacker combinations with Vic Beasley moving to strongside. Philip Wheeler is slated to be his “relief pitcher.”

3. The rookie club: One key for the Falcons will be how fast they can get rookies Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell on the field. The Falcons want to get faster and drafted these hitters to help improve the defense.

4. Reed, Upshaw: Both former strongside linebackers — Brooks Reed and Courtney Upshaw — were moved to defensive end with the coaches leaving no stone unturned in their quest to improve the pass rush.

5. Coleman is up: The Falcons remain high on running back Tevin Coleman, the season-opening starter in 2015. 



PROJECT PASS RUSH

Dan Quinn pressing all buttons to create a pass rush

How does drafting Keanu Neal help the pass rush?

DL line coach Bryan Cox: Hageman needs to improve his play

LB coach Jeff Ulbrich: ‘Cream will rise’ at linebacker for Falcons

Defensive coordinator Richard Smith pleased with early progress of the defense

Falcons still have a spot for DT Jonathan Babineaux

Dwight Freeney 95 percent certain that he will play in 2016

Falcons working 80 percent of time on pass rush

Weatherspoon on Freeney: ‘He still has it’

90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS — POSITION BY POSITION

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Linebackers

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Running backs

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Specialists

FALCONS’ OFFSEASON SPOTLIGHTS

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: OG Wes Schweizter, sixth round pick

Falcons offseason spotlight: LB De’Vondre Campbell, fourth round pick

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: TE Austin Hooper, third round pick

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: LB Deion Jones, second round pick

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: SS Keanu Neal, first round pick

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: DE/SLB Vic Beasley

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: DT Grady Jarrett

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: FS Robenson Therezie

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: CB Jalen Collins

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: RB Tevin Coleman

Falcons’ offseason spotlight: WR Justin Hardy


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