10 things we learned from Camp Exile

110604  Buford - Quarterback Matt Ryan throws the football  during the Atlanta Falcons player workout at Buford Park  on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. A core of Falcons players are carrying on with off-season practices at the park, despite the NFL lockout.  That's William Moore and Brent Grimes in the background.  Johnny Crawford  jcrawford@ajc.com

110604 Buford - Quarterback Matt Ryan throws the football during the Atlanta Falcons player workout at Buford Park on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. A core of Falcons players are carrying on with off-season practices at the park, despite the NFL lockout. That's William Moore and Brent Grimes in the background. Johnny Crawford jcrawford@ajc.com

Buford — The Falcons wrapped up their unofficial offseason program with the closing of “Camp Exile” on Wednesday.

During the NFL Lockout they tried to a normal offseason as quarterback Matt Ryan led the organized team activities.

In a surprise move, rookie Julio Jones was a regular at the practices after he was medically cleared from his foot surgery.

The Falcons, with between 20 to 35 players at the practices, actually went a week longer than what would have been allowed under league rules.

Here are the 10 things we learned from the practices:

1.    Jones should be ready to go: After the last practice, Jones spent some extra time on the field running routes before he went over to Ryan’s house for sandwiches and some chalk talk.

They have been meeting away from the field since Jones was drafted.

 Little league players hang on the fence during the Atlanta Falcons player workout at Buford Park. With players barred from the team facility during the lockout, they have worked out at a nearby city park.  Johnny Crawford, Jcrawford@ajc.com

Little league players hang on the fence during the Atlanta Falcons player workout at Buford Park. With players barred from the team facility during the lockout, they have worked out at a nearby city park. Johnny Crawford, Jcrawford@ajc.com

“He’s taken me under his wings,” Jones said. “He’s let me come over his house to go over material that I don’t have in my playbook.  Everything has been great.”

Jones said they study some of the finer nuances of the Falcons’ passing attack.

“We are just going over different material that I don’t have and I’m learning like that.” Jones said.

The Falcons’ offensive attack is not foreign to Jones.

“I recognize everything,” Jones said.  “It’s the same pro-set that we ran at Alabama. Matt and all of the other guys, the other receivers, are helping me out as well.”

Jones and linebacker Akeem Dent were the only members of the rookie class to attend the seven-on-seven drills. Now, they must wait until the lockout is over to sign their deals and report for camp.

Jones went pretty hard during the workouts, but admitted that he guarded against injury. There were no major injuries during the practices, although reserve wide receiver Tim Buckley did tweak an ankle in a collision.

“Everybody knows how to practice out here,” Jones said. “This is the professional level. Nobody is going to do anything crazy and try to hurt anyone else. If the cornerback has position on me, I’m not going to jump up out here. I’m just going to let him get the ball and help him get better. I don’t want to push him, fall down and roll our ankles or something like that.”

2. Matt Ryan is the unquestioned leader: Ryan is about to enter his fourth year in the NFL and it’s clear that he’s the leader of the Falcons.

He organized the workouts, came up with the schedule and got input from the key veterans.

He also kept tabs on the players who were working out on their own, too.

3. Curtis Lofton has a whistle: Lofton came with a defensive script and thoroughly enjoyed calling the defenses.

He has to work on his coaching voice to become the next Brian VanGorder.

Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens at a recent players-only practice in Buford.

Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens at a recent players-only practice in Buford.

4. Offensive line might be in good shape: Although the offensive linemen don’t play a key role in seven-on-seven drills, Joe Hawley and Garrett Reynolds were at nearly all of the practices. Mike Johnson was also a regular.

They all could be competing for starting jobs if Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock leave in free agency.

5. Shann Schillinger is recovering: The backup safety suffered a fractured ankle in the 15th game of the season. He took part in two of the practices.

“I’m getting closer and closer everyday,” Schillinger said. “I can start getting into more football related drills now. Hopefully, things will progress here in the next couple of weeks.”

Schillinger said he was at 85 percent healthy. He was limping some on Wednesday while playing free safety.

“I was cautious with it,” Schillinger said. “It was good to come out and move around a little bit. It was good to get back on the field.”

6. Franks maybe ready to challenge: Cornerback Dominique Franks, a fifth round pick in 2010, was a regular at the practices.

Franks was clearly more comfortable back pedaling and making his breaks on the ball. He could be ready from some action.

7. Roddy White is not a cornerback: One of the delights was watching White play cornerback during the last practice.

He bit on Michael Palmer’s inside move and gave up a sideline route before falling down.

The All-Pro receiver is not going to be a two-way player anytime soon.

8. Palmer’s has some nice hands: Palmer, the Parkview High and Clemson product, was a regular and received a lot of work.

Tony Gonzalez did not make any of the sessions and Justin Peelle and Robbie Agnone made a few practices, but for the most part it was the “Michael Palmer Show” at tight end.

He caught nearly every pass thrown his way.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan talking with the media after Tuesday's seven-on-seven practice.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan talking with the media after Tuesday's seven-on-seven practice.

9. Harry Douglas is fully recovered: He battled back from knee surgery last season.

At the NFL scouting combine, head coach Mike Smith noted that it could take  an extra year to fully recover from major knee surgery.

Douglas was a regular, ran extremely well and showed that explosiveness he displayed as a rookie.

With Jones on board, and the recovery of Kerry Meier, the wide receiver position is stacked.

10. Free agents flow: You have to respect linebacker Stephen Nicholas, kicker Matt Bryant, and linebacker Mike Peterson, who all made some practices despite the fact they are free agents. Nicholas was a regular.

(Well, it’s that time of the year to take a pause for the cause. I’m going to burn up this vacation time in anticipation of Roger and DeMaurice getting this labor deal done. Headed to the beach, see y’all around July 5 or 6th.)

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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171 comments Add your comment

Poppa Falcon

June 24th, 2011
11:05 am

Great insight, DOL!

Sam

June 24th, 2011
11:12 am

Is there anything that your anticipating happening while your on vacation?

Alex Sarson

June 24th, 2011
11:13 am

Thanks for your continued work DOL. Great for me as a UK fan to get such great views on whats going on, invaluable in fact.

SeenThisB4

June 24th, 2011
11:33 am

#11. Even Cam Newton will get plenty enough time to stay in the pocket and take apart the falcan’t defense…even Cam Newton.

Rikus

June 24th, 2011
11:34 am

I figured this article would just sum up things that you’ve already reported in the past – but I was wrong! You’ve been holding out on us, old man! Good to hear more details about who has and hasn’t been participating, as well as the injury updates!

FlexLuth

June 24th, 2011
11:37 am

I am very excited about this season. I am hoping we get this strike over, we pull off one defensive free agent, are able to keep most of ours and everyone stays healthy. Excited about the recovery of Kerry. He seemed like he was going to be a tough guy.

Step up or step out time for Trey Lewis and Jamaal. I hope its up…

FlexLuth

June 24th, 2011
11:39 am

SeenThisB4 is clearly a Taint. Ask your boy Payton how he felt in the pocket last year? You took the win in Atlanta like we took the win in NO. Dont expect NO to ever show again. It was a fluke they ever got there in the first place.

Chucktown38

June 24th, 2011
11:39 am

I think we are going to be just fine on the O line even if we lose some vets to FA.I would love to see Palmer get more playing time this year.FA players John Joesph and Ray Edwards are going to look great paying for the falcons this year

Yo Vince

June 24th, 2011
11:51 am

Nice update DOL. I was running down at the river last weekend on an ATL visit and ran next to A. Blank. I told him to get r done !

Fashion Police

June 24th, 2011
12:02 pm

Whoa, D-LED is that you in that picture..??

What is going on with those shorts..?

Did you pick those up at a retirement home tag sale..?

E-gads!!

The Dogkiller Returns

June 24th, 2011
12:12 pm

Damn, everyone’s getting healthy, and we’re a few FA’s away from lighting up the league this season.

Too bad the rich kids are still hiding the ball.

Big Ray

June 24th, 2011
12:26 pm

#11. Even Cam Newton will get plenty enough time to stay in the pocket and take apart the falcan’t defense…even Cam Newton.

Who was the QB for Seattle again? ;)

ken herock

June 24th, 2011
12:39 pm

“Too bad the rich kids are still hiding the ball.”

Obviously you’re referring to Brady, Manning, and Brees..

McNasty

June 24th, 2011
1:04 pm

PLEASE DONT RESPOND OR MENTION STATEMENTS FROM THE AINTS FANS ON OUR BLOG.
THANK YOU

McNasty

June 24th, 2011
1:09 pm

I bet we are overlooking how our “Greatest Show On Turf” (GSOT) recievers are going to help the run game because of their superior blocking abilities.
I wonder how Spoon did?

hjerry

June 24th, 2011
1:32 pm

DOL, So then did Dahl, Blalock, and Clabo not attend any workouts? Also, was Meier at any?

The Dogkiller Returns

June 24th, 2011
1:33 pm

They’re all rich kids! I just want football, and some b/millionaire is in the way.

hjerry

June 24th, 2011
1:33 pm

It’s great to here that Dent was a regular since he’s a local product. I’d love to hear more on how well he did with the others.

This Gets Old!

June 24th, 2011
1:39 pm

Stop responding to SeenThisB4 because he’s a teen. If Saints were so great he’d be on their blogs (probably kicked off which for them is something) Ignore him and he’ll go away.

D Money

June 24th, 2011
1:40 pm

DOL…I thought you were a black man but those legs tell another story…ha ha. Man your legs are as ashy white as those chalk lines. Just playing with you. Great job on the updates.

waynester

June 24th, 2011
1:45 pm

Men, that’s some great news about Michael Palmer stepping up. If Franks and Schillinger can start contributing I’ll feel a lot better about the lack of undrafted free agents this offseason. There are several udfa’s at all 3 of those positions that I’d definitely want to look at if Palmer Franks and Shann aren’t showing the needed progress…..

hjerry

June 24th, 2011
1:47 pm

That picture of Owens is hilarious-just insert a speech bubble and let the laughs flow.

Barry

June 24th, 2011
2:19 pm

Hey Y’all:

I can hear it :”THUMP!!!. IT’S GETTING LOUDER!!!!!!!!. THUMP!! THUMP!! THUMP!!!!……………..ect. I CANT WAIT FOR THIS SEASON TO START. IT WILL BE LIKE NO OTHER. THE FANS, THE TEAM, THE MEDIA, THE OWNERS, THE PLAYERS, THE COACHES, THE CITY OF ATLANTA, THE STATE OF GEORGIA: WE ARE “ONE HEARTBEAT!!!” THIS IS OUR TOWN! THIS IS OUR TEAM!! WE ARE DOWN WITH THIS SEASON “TOGETHER” IN “ONE HEARTBEAT!!!” THIS OUR “HEARTBEAT!!” AND WE ARE “ONE”.

I AM MORE THAN EXCITED FOR THIS SEASON TO START. THER IS A HISTORY OF OWING TEAMS IN THE NFL A BEAT DOWN THIS COMING SEASON. “BRING IT ON!!!” BRING IT ON ON “ONE HEARTBEAT11″

LET”S GO FALCONS!!!!!

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a FALCON FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

………………………………..”ONE HEARTBEAT, BABY!!!!………………………….

MaxxFalcon

June 24th, 2011
2:28 pm

Pause for the cause!

hiramsaint

June 24th, 2011
2:39 pm

stb4- lol- we also learned the failcans have done ZERO on the D side and all teams will exploit them as the packers and saints did in their own tent

IceFan

June 24th, 2011
2:39 pm

It’s hard not to get too excited about a rookie when we have one as eager to contribute as Julio and a leader QB as eager to get him up to speed. We are going to average 30 points per game this year! Hopefully we grab a couple free agents for the Defense in the mad-grab Free Agency period.

eM

June 24th, 2011
2:47 pm

hiramsaint

June 24th, 2011
2:39 pm
stb4- lol- we also learned the failcans have done ZERO on the D side and all teams will exploit them as the packers and saints did in their own tent

7-9…….enough said.

hiramsaint

June 24th, 2011
3:07 pm

thats because it’s all you have. heres what i have -in 2 playoff games , matty melt is 0-2 with SIX turnovers and a saftey and holds the worst loss a #1 seed has ever had in playoff history.

1911A1

June 24th, 2011
3:11 pm

I’ll play – speech bubble for C. Owens. Dave Coulier’s “Jackalope” from that funny video show he hosted in the ’90s: “Fast as fast can beeeee, you can’t catch meeeee!”

chickenman

June 24th, 2011
3:24 pm

great insight i remeber a few weeks ago harry douglas tweeted me back that his knee felt great this was before the camp exile so im glad to see the product of his hard work rehabing the knee in the off season because i still believe he can be a massive threat in the slot ala wes welker

Lester Archambeau

June 24th, 2011
3:36 pm

I hate you hiramsaint.

Brain Trust

June 24th, 2011
3:51 pm

nothin’ but love for ya les

mountain_jim

June 24th, 2011
3:51 pm

Thanks DLed for outstanding Falcons coverage during the walkout summer doldrums – enjoy your time off!

eM

June 24th, 2011
3:55 pm

hiramsaint

June 24th, 2011
3:07 pm
thats because it’s all you have. heres what i have -in 2 playoff games , matty melt is 0-2 with SIX turnovers and a saftey and holds the worst loss a #1 seed has ever had in playoff history.

7-9……..enough said.

hiramsaint

June 24th, 2011
4:00 pm

looks like i win em

Forrest W

June 24th, 2011
4:02 pm

At least our defense can tackle. What happened in Seattle in ya’lls playoff game? The entire defense get a chance to tackle Lynch and he still scored.

eM

June 24th, 2011
4:16 pm

hiramsaint

June 24th, 2011
4:00 pm
looks like i win em

7-9……enough said 3.0.

Dan

June 24th, 2011
4:29 pm

Glad to hear Nichols was there especially with rumors of him going to Detroit being a Free Agent?
Sounds like he wants to be here so its up to the Falcons I would say if they want him here.

BirdDog

June 24th, 2011
4:30 pm

OK, Julio Jones is officially the wierdest looking dude I have ever seen! Check out the pic on the Sports home page with Ryan. Freaky!

Singletary

June 24th, 2011
4:40 pm

Even tho’ I see the huge inhuman tanks that play for TB in my rearview mirror, I have to be optimistic. I think TD is gambling that this is our year in the pick up of Julio before Roddy starts losing a step with age. Thus, if we go far in the playoffs, we really traded “an almost second round” rather than a first round 2012 pick.

JUST-IN

June 24th, 2011
4:42 pm

WILLFANWHODON:TLIKEOURTEAMSTOPTALKINGANDGOHOMEAREISITSTILLUNDERWATER.

falcon4ever

June 24th, 2011
4:44 pm

your d couldn’t even tackle the qb. even slow a$$ aaron rodgers got in the endzone. and y’all were supposed to be all that last year crying about no respect and the power rankings and 13- 3. well now we all found out why you got no respect didn’t we. you have to earn it first but with a welfare mentality like atl. has , all you know is gimme gimme gimme. well you got it and got it good-beat to a pulp by a wildcard team. hehehehehehehehehehehehehe

hiramsaint

June 24th, 2011
4:47 pm

that was my post and we are typing dummy-not talking. another product of the atl. public school system no doubt

JUST-IN

June 24th, 2011
4:52 pm

eM

June 24th, 2011
4:57 pm

hiramsaint

June 24th, 2011
4:47 pm
that was my post and we are typing dummy-not talking. another product of the atl. public school system no doubt

7-9……enough said 4.0.

Runner-

June 24th, 2011
5:13 pm

Love the work DOL, best reporter the AJC has. Have a great vacation my man

willie

June 24th, 2011
5:17 pm

Why to you guys continue to let this clown get a rise out of you. Just ignore him.

supa

June 24th, 2011
5:18 pm

Is there anything Matt Ryan can’t do?

I’m glad he’s on my team.

eM

June 24th, 2011
5:20 pm

willie

June 24th, 2011
5:17 pm
Why to you guys continue to let this clown get a rise out of you. Just ignore him.

Ever watch a cat play with a bug? We’re the cat, he’s the bug. We are the ones having fun watching him get a rise. Opps….my bad, Himey only gets a rise when SeenThisB4 shows up.

eM

June 24th, 2011
5:21 pm

Oh…….

7-9…..enough said 5.0.