Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons opened training camp on Thursday. Which stories should fans keep an eye on? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports from Falcons camp.
FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spoke with the media after Thursday’s opening practice. The Atlanta Journa-Constitution columnist Jeff Schultz checked in with Ryan also.
Here are some of the highlights:
ON NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DIRK KOETTER: He has been really good. He has been very upbeat and positive. I think everybody is impressed with how smart he is and how receptive he is to our input, too. He understands we have done some things well around here. He wants to take that into account and also find areas where we can improve. It has been really fun working with him through OTAs. I am sure everyone will get to know him better during training camp.ON THE FIRST DAY OF CAMP: I thought it was a good start for us. I thought the defense was flying around and did some good things. Offensively, I thought we knocked some of the rust off after being off for a couple of weeks. Once we knocked the rust off, I thought we executed pretty well. It was just the start. We need to build on that tomorrow. We need to have that approach day in and day out. We need to get better every day.
ON IF THE FALCONS CAN TAKE ANOTHER STEP FORWARD IN THE NFL: I always think we can. I think we have the right chemistry of guys. I think we have the right core group of guys that understand how to approach practice and meetings every day. I think the thing we need to concern ourselves with right now is how can we lock in every time we go into the meetings. How do we come out and be productive and get better every day on the practice field? I think if we can be better at that this year, that will prove dividends for us.
MORE ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH KOETTER: Absolutely, we have done that a little bit before. We have watched some of what Jacksonville did while he was there. We also have talked about what things well call in certain situations. That has helped us both and will a lot more in the preseason.
ON WINNING NOW BECAUSE SOME OF THE STARS ARE GETTING OLDER: I think that you always have to have that approach. The NFL is a tough and difficult League, and you have to have the approach that now is the time. If you come in any different way, then you are not giving yourself a chance.
ON PLAYING MORE IN EXHIBITION GAMES: You have to ask Smitty (Head Coach Mike Smith). Those decisions are way above my pay grade. I think Smitty does a great job and has in the past with that. He keeps a good pulse on our guys and what it takes to get us ready. He will do what he needs us to do and we will follow suit and handle it the way we need to.
ON HIS OFFSEASON PROGRAM: I think that when you look at this season and the years before that, I have not been where I need to be. I do not think I have been as good as I needed to be. I don’t know any other way to improve than to work harder and to try to find ways to get better. I think that is something all of us have done. I think all of us have taken a look at ourselves and tried to find ways to improve. That is my sole intention for it. Story: Aftr a physical season, Ryan hitting the weights hard.
ON LISTENING TO THE VETERANS:You learn from guys like TE Tony Gonzalez, DE John Abraham, and C Todd McClure, guys that have been around and successful for a long time. You have to take care of yourself. You have to know when to push yourself. There are times when you need to go out there and push yourself and there are times when you need to take care of your body. I think the biggest thing I learned from those guys is the amount of effort it takes after you get off the practice field to go out and play the next day. I have taken those to heart and tried to improve in those areas.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog