BUFORD – The Falcons are set to wrap up “Camp Exile” with their final seven-on-seven practice on Wednesday.
A core group of 20 to 35 players have been working out twice-a-week since May 10 about 10 miles from the team’s facilities.
Last year, the organized team activities concluded on June 18, so the players-only workouts have gone a few days over.
Quarterback Matt Ryan, linebacker Curtis Lofton and player representative Coy Wire have been instrumental in getting the players together.
Ryan spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about what he thinks the team achieved this offseason after Tuesday’s workout. (We’ll get Lofton’s take after tomorrow’s practice.)
Q: Did you all take advantage of this dead time and make something good happen?
A: I think obviously with the lockout and the situation that we were in, it was not a great situation in order to get prepared for next season. But with that said, I think we got a lot done. We had consistent turnouts week-in and week-out for about six or seven weeks, which is a long time. I think we did a great job. We kept it loose and we kept it fun everyday. I think it’s going to serve us well. We won’t be as rusty when we get into training camp. We kind of used our verbiage, ran the routes and did the things we needed to do. I think we’ll be all set whenever camp does roll around.
Q: What do you think about Julio [Jones], now that you’ve had him out on the field?
A: I think he’s done a great job. He’s probably been one of our most consistent guys out here for the last two months. I think for him it was extra important to do this. We have veteran guys who know the offense, who know what they are doing and how to prepare. For me, it was really good just to stay in his ear on every day. This is wow we call things, this is how we do things, this is where you’re going to line up. This is how I want you to run the route. This is where I need you to be. That’s invaluable. It’s not something that you can do in two weeks or 10 days, build a rapport with somebody. It’s something that takes some time. I think having been around him for two months and throwing out here, and having him at the house, going over some different things with him.
Q: You’ve had him one-on-one?
A: Yeah, over lunch and with different stuff like that. I talk to him about how he needs. . . There are a lot of things on his plate. It’s not that dissimilar to the situation that I came into three years ago. He’s an early draft pick. There’s a lot of pressure falling on your shoulders. For me it was for different reasons. For him it because of trading draft picks and those type of things. I think he’ll handle it well. I talked to him about that, about preparation and things like that. Most importantly, just getting him a feel for what he’ll be going through next year.
Q: Will get a little R&R after wrapping up the camp?
A: Yeah, just the normal routine. I think what we’ve tried to do is keep it as similar to what would be doing as possible. This would kind of be our last week with weightlifting, conditioning and OTAs and stuff if we were at Flowery Branch. It will give guys a chance to get away from here a little bit before the season rolls around depending on what happens. We certainly could be back whenever, but we are trying to keep it as normal as possible.
Q: Did you get a chance to see Roddy White on the NFL Network?
A: I didn’t see him the other night, but I’m sure he was colorful. Hopefully, he did a good job.
Q: How is Julio’s personality fitting in?
A: Julio seems to have a different temperament than Roddy. You appear to have some different personalities and different talents. I think what fuels them is different. Roddy is out there talking and have a great time. That’s great because people feed off of that energy. But Julio seems to be a little bit different and that’s good. It’s tough when you’ve got everybody being vocal. So, I think he’s a good fit in our wide receiver room and will do a great job. I think he’ll be vocal when he needs to be.
Q: Roddy said that with Julio, you all are going to be the Greatest Show on Turf. Any Thoughts?
A: Kurt Warner did a pretty good job with the guys that he had. That’s good Roddy is confident in what we can do. We have to get back to work first.
Q: Did you see Thurman Thomas’ comments about cutting back Michael Turner’s carries?
A: I don’t think we’ll change the identity of who we are. At the end of the day, on both sides of the ball we’ve been a physical football team for the last three years. That’s not going to change. Whether if its over 300 or under 300, it’s whatever it takes to win. I’m cool with going out and throwing it 65 times and I’m good with throwing it eight times. Whatever it is, whatever that game calls for. . . . there is a lot of wear and tear that goes on a running back’s body. You’d like to keep him as healthy as possible. Mike is of that same mindset too. That’s the beauty of our locker room is that everbody is kind of built that way. Regardless of what need to do, whether if it’s Roddy run-blocking to open up things. I can remember two or three times against New Orleans where he had some good blocks and Mike ran right off of him for touchdowns. That kind of mindset works well in our locker room.
Q: Will you all be able to spread the ball around to everybody?
A: When you have a lot of talented guys there is a mutual respect. There is an understanding that certain times his talent is going to be able win us games or it’s going to be Tony, Roddy or Julio. That kind of helps out as well.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog