FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan met with the media after the morning practice.
Here’s the chat session:
Q: How did the first practice go?
A: It was a walk through this morning. I thought it was good. It was productive. I think with the new schedule we’re going to have to be productive with our walk throughs. I think we did a good job out there. Guys were focused. Everybody is really excited to be back, players and coaches. There was a really good energy.
Q: What has the week been like since learning that the lockout was lifted?
A: It’s been busy. Everybody was very well prepared. Both sides of it, players and coaches. We had a conditioning test last night. Guys came back in great shape. Everybody looked good and ran well. The coaches were prepared for the changes. I think they’ve adjusted. . . Smitty has done a great job of getting us organized with what we are going to do to get ready. Now we just have to make the most of it.
Q: What do you guys have to emphasize the most after being off for so long?
A: We’ve got some time, but we have to be productive in the time that we have. We have to make up for what we missed in the offseason. But I think we are lucky in that we are a veteran team and we’ve got a lot of guys back. We have a lot of guys that understand what it takes to get it done and know our system. They can help our young guys out. The goal is to continue to work hard the entire camp.
Q: Was there any rust out there because of the time off?
A: We haven’t really moved at full speed yet. I’m sure there will be a little bit of rust early at the beginning of training camp. We’ll try and knock that off as fast as we can.
Q: Are you concerned about the offensive line as it still taking shape? Are you concerned about that?
A: Certainly. They have been a staple of what we’ve done offensively. It’s great that we signed back Tyson (Clabo). I think that was really important. He’s going to help us a bunch. Hopefully we can sign the other two guys. (Harvey Dahl is reportedly signing with the Rams.) That would be nice. But you have to understand that it’s a business and other things can happen. My hope is that we can get both of those guys (Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl) back. But if not, we’ll make the most of who’s here.
Q: What are the immediate things that you want to work worth Julio (Jones)?
A: We still have an opportunity to work with Julio quite a bit albeit not with the coaches. We had an opportunity to get some work with him during the offseason. I feel like personally I got a good feel for what he can do personally and some of the things he likes and doesn’t like. We’ve had a lot of discussions about that. I think it will be good to come out and just get to work. We have to get him acclimated to hearing the system. I think that’s always one of the hardest things for rookies. Things are said quickly and you have to be able to digest that and then go out there and play fast. I think that will be good for him for the next five or six weeks.
Q: What does he bring to you all specifically? What do you see in Julio?
A: He’s a big, strong and physical player. He’s really explosive and really fast. He’s got all of the tools that you would want from a wide receiver. I think as he continues to learn from (wide receivers coach) Terry Robiskie and the other guys, some of the veteran guys. When he gets that leadership and coaching, it’s going to help him become a little more polished. I think he’ll fit in really well for us.
Q: How important is it for the rookies to get into camp on time?
A: I think it’s great. I think it’s great when they get into camp Day One. I think every practice you have as a rookie is important. We are lucky that all those guys got their deals done and everybody is here. Soon, we can get our free agents in and have them playing as well.
Q: How will it change having a much younger wide receiving corps with Brian Finneran and Michael Jenkins gone?
A: It’s tough because you love playing with those guys, Fin and Jenk. They did a great job for us. I hope both of those guys will get picked up and be productive somewhere else. I wish them the best because they are good friends. My first touchdown pass was to Jenks, 62 yards, I’ll never forget that.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog