BUFORD – Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and linebacker Mike Peterson helped to orchestrate the team’s first unofficial workout on Tuesday.
More than 30 players were on hand for the seven-on-seven drills that later for just over an hour.
Before taking the field, Ryan spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the drills, his wedding and integrating wide receiver Julio Jones into the offense.
Q: Who’s coming? Will Julio and Roddy [White] be attending?
A: Julio can’t run quite yet. I don’t want to talk about the injuries. We’ll kind of keep that same policy. He had some work done during the offseason. But, he’ll be here. It’s a little more laid back than the usual setting. But those guys will be here and we’ll get to work.
I think we’ll have some of the defensive guys here today, too. We started throwing with the wideouts and quarterbacks a little while ago. We are starting to get our rhythm back, our timing back. We’ll just continue to keep getting better as we approach the season. Hopefully, the lockout and everything gets done and taken care of [as soon as possible.]
Q: Do you map out the workouts? Is there a formula to the workouts?
A: Absolutely. We’ve all been doing it long enough to kind of understand what’s beneficial and how to get it done. You kind of put on your coaching hat and work on some things that you want to work on. We’ve got some stuff scripted and we’ll get out and work on the things we need to work on.
Q: Who called it together?
A: It’s kind of a conglomeration. We started to get together with the quarterbacks and wideouts a little bit before. One of the great things about our organization and our team is that guys keep in touch all of the time. It’s nothing like, ‘hey I
haven’t talked to you in three months.’ It’s time to come show up. We are constantly texting and talking to each other throughout the offseason. We had talked initially that if we got to this time of the year and we were still locked out that we wanted to get together a little bit and work on some of the things and start to get some of the timing back. We wanted to knock off some of the rust. We’ve started to do that.
Q: How much are you all trying to mirror last year’s minicamp that was held May 7 through 9th?
A: I didn’t even think of that. I think everybody just kind of knows. I didn’t even think about the dates. But you just kind of know that it’s time to start picking up the ball again and start getting ready for the upcoming season. Guys have been training really hard. Now, it’s time to get onto the field and do some football-oriented drills.
Q: Any concern for injuries and how do you handle that with league not providing any support for you? Do guys have to go out and get [insurance] policies for in case they get injured?
A: Yeah, some of the things are not covered throughout the lockout. We are very similar to anybody else in this situation when you’re out of work. You have the opportunity for COBRA health insurance. So guys are insured. Obviously, we don’t want anybody to get hurt. We’re going to practice accordingly. We are not going to be out here hitting each other or anything like that. You run that risk anytime, but I think guys will take care of each other out here while we are working out. I hope that nobody ends up on the ground.
Q: How did you view the trade for Julio Jones and the drafting of [running back] Jacquizz Rodgers?
A: I’m excited about it. You’ve got to have faith in the guys in the front office. Thomas and his staff have done a great job since I’ve been here in trying to put pieces in the right places. They felt like Julio was a great fit for our offense. You
have to trust what they do. I think he certainly adds a dimension to our offense. It’s another big weapon.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet him. I saw him on TV mostly in college. He looks skinny on TV. The first time when I met him in person, I was thinking this guy is a monster. It’s good to finally meet him. He’s smart. It was good to talk to him about offensive football. I think he’ll be really good in our system. I don’t worry about them giving up too much. I think we’ve got some other good players in the draft. Honestly, if you can add three or four guys who can impact your football team from the draft, if it’s only two or three to affect your team next year, I think it’s worth it.
Q: Based on that, do you think they are going to be active in free agency?
A: At some point there are only so many dollars that you can get to certain people. I think we’re going to be aggressive. Thomas has a good pulse on what we need to do. I think he has a good feel for what we need to get and it will interesting to see whenever free agency does come up what we end up doing.
Q: How tough is it that you’ve haven’t been able to establish a rapport with [new quarterbacks] coach [Bob] Bratkowski or to even talk to coach [Mike] Smith with the lockout?
A: It’s been difficult. Especially at the quarterback position, because you are in contact with the coaching staff a lot more than the other positions. It’s been different. They’ve probably enjoyed not hearing from me.
Q: Tell us about your wedding and married life?
A: It’s been great. It’s been a month now. The first month has been awesome. Everything you could hope for. We’ll just leave it at that.
Q: Did you get a good honeymoon in?
A: Yeah, got away afterwards and took four or five days. But I’ve been busy. For me, it’s that time in life where everybody that you know is kind of getting married and you’re going to weddings every single week. Whether if it’s your wedding, you’re in a wedding or you’re the best man. I’ve had it all this offseason.
Q: How was Matt [Schaub's] golf tournament down in Houston?
A: It was great. Matt and I grew up in the same hometown. So I went down and they raised a ton of money for the Children’s Hospital down in Houston. It was really well run. I went down with Brian Finneran, who is good friends with Matt also. We had a good time.
Q: When is your golf tournament for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta?
A: June 6th. I think it’s going to be a great event. We are going to have some great people out there. It’s going to be at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth. It’s a great golf course. I think it’s going to be a unique experience for people to come out and be able to meet some of the guys and play golf with some of the guys and raise some money for a great cause.
Q: Has Julio been meeting with you all?
A: He’s been here, but I won’t get into the (injury). But he’s been here.
Q: When the lockout was lifted, do you get into the building and talk to the coaches?
A: Everything about this offseason has been unique and different. It’s certainly nice to have a couple of years in the league and understand what it takes to prepare. . .It was a little bit of a buzz kill. You got to speak to them for a couple of days about some of things we’re going to do and the things that we might change. We communicated. We talked about some different things. We talked about moving forward. We talked about all of the possibilities of the things that could happen moving forward and how we wanted to approach it. At this point, we are very much prepared to get our team ready. I’m sure the coaches will do the same thing whenever the season rolls around.
Q: How much of an edge do you thing you have being a veteran team with so many guys who live in the Atlanta area?
A: I think it’s beneficial that a lot of guys live here. It’s a tight team too. There are guys that are talking to each other quite a bit. Like I said before, it wasn’t like this just came out of the blue. Hey, this is the day we are going to hold minicamp. It’s something that has been going around for a while. I think it’s beneficial that we are in the same offense, same defense and there is not a whole lot of new things that we have to go over. It’s kind of like tightening up some of the things we’ve worked on the past couple of years. We’ll continue to do that and be ready to go whenever the season rolls around.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog