There was a little extra pushing, but nothing escalated into a fight.
When the two teams last scrimmaged in 2004, there was a slew of fights and some downright nasty play.
Falcons coach Mike Smith took about the hardest hit of the day, when he got knocked over by Falcons wide receiver Drew Davis while watching another drill.
“You might want to check Andrew Davis and see how he’s feeling,” Smith quipped.
After his spill, Smith popped right back up, adjusted his white cap and continued to watch practice.
“You don’t ever want to stay down, that’s for darn sure,” said Smith, who was a linebacker in college. “You don’t want to take an eight count. We were just on one field with a lot of things going on. I ended up taking one in the back. It’s all good.”
The Falcons offense matched up well against the Titans.
The Falcons ran 50 plays during two periods and the passing was particularly sharp. Matt Ryan completed 16 of 17 passes. Chris Redman competed six of six. Dominique Davis completed four of four. John Parker Wilson completed one of four passes.
The Falcons ran a couple of nice screen plays, too. One was to running back Jacquizz Rodgers in the right flat and another was a wide receiver screen to Julio Jones.
“I really like the way that Matt operated with our wide receivers and tight ends,” Smith said.
Fourteen different receivers caught passes. Jacquizz Rodgers, Roddy White, Kevin Cone and Tony Gonzalez had three catches each.
“I think we got a lot accomplished,” Ryan said. “It was good for us to communicate against a different defense and see some different looks, to really make sure that we are on top of our assignments. It was really productive for us.”
The Falcons’ defense was without cornerbacks Brent Grimes (foot), Christopher Owens (hamstring) and Dunta Robinson (right ankle). Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed a long pass to Nate Washington over Asante Samuel on his first throw.
Samuel, who played left cornerback, rebounded with two interceptions. The Falcons rotated Dominique Franks, Darrin Walls and Robert McClain at right cornerback.
“They’ve got a big [defensive] line,” Hasselbeck said. “When I did my three-step drop, I was trying to find a lane to throw through those guys. They are very big up front.”
In the red-zone period, Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas made a nice stop in the backfield of Tennessee running back Chris Johnson.
“Stephen was limited all through the offseason with the procedure that he had during the offseason,” Smith said. “But he hasn’t missed a beat since camp started. We started him slow the first couple of days, but he looks very good so far through camp.”
A few plays later, McClain gave up a touchdown reception to Tennessee wide receiver Damian Williams.
In the only scuffle, Titans guard Leroy Harris and Falcons linebacker Akeem Dent were quickly separated.
“No one is going to make the team because they got into a fight,” Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said. “We can still compete at a high level without fighting, pushing and shoving. Otherwise it’s not worth doing these things.”
Hasselbeck had some kind words for the Falcons’ defense.
“From the start of it, I thought Atlanta’s defense was real professional with the way they handled everything,” Hasselbeck said. “Their coaches are real professional. It’s been my experience that the good teams know how to practice without pads, which means they usually know how to with pads. You can tell Atlanta is a good team. Their mindset is to have a good season and make it to the Super Bowl. They get it. They know how to practice and you could tell today.”
Both sides considered the controlled practice a success.
“I will be in touch with Mike to see if we can do this in the future,” Smith said.
Munchak said, “We’d love it. It serves both of our purposes. … we’d love to try to keep continuing to find a way to get together during training camp.”
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–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog