FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons finished up a spirited two-hour OTA practice early Wednesday afternoon.
Wide receiver Julio Jones continued to shine in the workouts.
“There is a little less weight on the top of his head with his dreads gone, but he’s had a very good camp for us as you saw today,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He made some very nice catches and he’s been making those types of catches all through camp.”
For Jones, cutting his hair was about more than just a new look.
Gone are the dreadlocks that were a trademark for the Falcons wide receiver through his first year in Atlanta and his collegiate career at Alabama.
Jones cut his hair and donated it to a charity that helps children with cancer.
“We do a lot of community service here, and from going to a lot of hospitals and seeing all the kids who are fans of mine, I just cut my hair and donated it for leukemia patients,” said Jones.
Jones said he has run into a number of people who double-take in his direction,
unsure if he is really the Falcons receiver. There are no plans to grow his hair out again.
“I like the new look,” he said.
Here are some of the other highlights:
– Smith gave an updated injury report. The big news is that offensive tackle Lamar Holmes (toe) will not be available until the start of training camp. The Falcons were hoping that their third-round pick would get some action late in the OTAs and definitely by the minicamp (June 19-21).
“We don’t have to give an injury report, but we want to give up an update on where we are,” Smith said. “Corey Peters has not been able to participate and he will not participate in our offseason program. The first time that we’ll get him back out on the field is when we start training camp in July. We had follow-up appointments with a couple of guys here earlier in the week and we made a couple of decisions. Lamar Holmes will not participate in the rest of the offseason program. We are going to be very precautionary. You saw he was walking around, he was out of his boot. So, we are going to be very precautionary.
“Stephen Nicholas (toe) is still progressing with his procedure where he missed some time last season as well.”
Also, defensive end Cliff Matthews was out with an undisclosed injury.
– Attendance: Cornerback Asante Samuel, who had a previous engagement, was not at practice along with defensive end John Abraham and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Samuel took part in the Tuesday’s session.
– Early in the session, the offense came out on the attack, but couldn’t score against the first-team defense. The best play was a screen pass out to Michael Turner.
–Cornerback rotation: With Samuel out, Brent Grimes played the left side. Dunta Robinson played the right. When the team went to the nickel, Robinson went inside and Christopher Owens went to the right side.
Dominique Franks and Darrin Walls were the second-team corners.
Robert McClain and Marty Markett were the third-team corners. Markett made a nice interception of a tipped pass, but got “coached up” when he tried to reverse field instead of streaming up the sideline.
–Offensive line rotation: Left tackle Sam Baker, left guard Justin Blalock, center Joe Hawley, right guard Garrett Reynolds and right tackle Tyson Clabo ran with the first unit.
Left tackle Will Svitek, left guard Andrew Jackson, center Peter Konz, right guard Vince Manuwai and right tackle Mike Johnson made up the second line.
Left tackle Bryce Harris, left guard Phillip Manley, center Tyler Horn, right guard Peter Konz and right tackle Andrew Jackson made up the third line.
When the Falcons used their first two draft picks this year on offensive linemen, McClure didn’t waste any time offering his help to the rookies.
The center, entering his 15th NFL season, is used to competition for his job. It’s been that way since he entered the league. Nevertheless, he understands the plight of Konz and Holmes.
“I’ve dealt with it my whole career, young guys coming in, and I’ve always said I’ll try to teach as much as I can,” McClure said. “Kind of pay it forward. I told those guys when they came in, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask because we are making our team better. If I can teach those guys a little thing that can help this team win games, that’s what I’m here for.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog