Falcons Football is here again!….well sort of. Atlanta Falcons fans will get their first glimpse of their 2010 Birds when mini-camp kicks off this weekend in Flowery Branch. There will only be one day open to the public, so grab your favorite football memorabilia, chairs, and snacks and head up to The Branch to get a look at your hometown Birds, which is brimming with excitement on the dawn of a new season. Take advantage while you can, because it will be a long, painful wait until July and training camp officially gets under way. Just like spring practice in college football, mini-camp will offer just a little taste of what’s to come for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2010 NFL Season.
A few Frequently Asked Questions from AtlantaFalcons.com:
Saturday, May 8 (First Practice)
Practice – 10:30 a.m. (Practice is open to the public, gates open at 9:30 a.m.)
Defensive players available after practice for fan autographs
Saturday, May 8 (Second Practice)
Practice – 4:15 p.m. (Practice is open to the public, gates open at 3:15 p.m.)
Offensive players available after practice for fan autographs
Hats, jackets, rain gear, sunglasses, sunscreen, binoculars, blankets, umbrellas, lawn chairs, and strollers
Still cameras with under 12′ lenses and no flashes are permitted. No flash photography of any type, camcorders, or recorders are permitted at any time.
Coolers are permitted, but are subject to search at any time by Falcons security personnel. No alcoholic beverages of any kind or glass containers are permitted.
Bags over 8.5 inches wide by 13 inches long by 5 inches deep are not permitted at training camp.
No ATM’s are located on site, so grab cash before hand if you plan to purchase any merchandise or concessions
Training camp parking is available at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex and Flowery Branch High School across the street from the Falcons Training Complex. After Hall County Schools begin, parking will be available at the Hollis Transportation Lot located one mile from the Falcons Training Complex. A complimentary shuttle service will be provided from this location. Please follow the signs to this location. There is no general parking available at the Falcons training complex
A Kids Zone interactive area will be available for children one hour prior to each practice session.
The Falcons merchandise tent is located near the main fan field entrance of camp.
You can either bring your own merchandise or purchase it at Flowery Branch, but make sure to bring your own sharpie.
A first for The Bird Cage, this weekend we will be inviting fans to write up a little summary (as short or as long as you want) on what you see after attending the Atlanta Falcons mini-camp. Take notes if you want or just make some mental memories on what you see at Flowery Branch on Saturday. Give the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly. Write about how the offense or defense looked, some of the new players in Falcons uniforms, or just the overall fan experience. It’s totally up to you. Just type up your “Guest Column” on MS Word as an attachment or just type it in the email. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include your piece in Sunday’s New Post along with your handle-name, your real name, or both depending on whichever you prefer. We’re truly looking for the real fan viewpoint on this one.
So here in The Bird Cage we thought we’d give our different Six Searing Questions as the Atlanta Falcons Mini-Camp commences:
One of the most fun things of mini-camp, training camp, and pre-season is the raging position battles that look to take place. One of the most fun to watch this year will be to see if William Moore can supplant veteran Erik Coleman. Coleman was a total team player and moved over to strong safety from free safety and was very good in run support, but struggled a good bit in pass coverage. Moore has had a full year of rehab and film study and if he can get back to his junior year playing level it should be a great one to watch. Late news has William Moore being held out of mini-camp again. Looks like grabbing that starting job is slipping further and further away.
The Falcons infused a ton of new talent on the offensive line after drafting Center Joe Hawley and Guard Mike Johnson in this year’s draft. Add to that the fact that Dimitroff drafted Tackle Garrett Reynolds last year and you get that feeling that some offensive lineman’s jobs are now in jeopardy. The Falcons carried 9 offensive lineman on their active roster: Clabo, Dahl, McClure, Blalock, Baker, Reynolds, Romberg, Ojinnaka, and Svitek. After adding Hawley and Johnson, several OL will need to fight for their spots. Will Svitek and Quinn Ojinnaka, in particular, played well in relief and Romberg has shown great promise as well. The Falcons may carry 10 OL, but if they don’t several players will looking over their shoulders.
The obvious answer is to hope for Harry Douglas’ complete and healthy return to his pre-injury days. But he’s barely 9 months removed from a very serious injury that takes a full year to recover from, not even including the fact that receivers and corners usually take longer. The injury to Harry Douglas hit much harder than many fans expected. The Falcons became predictable on offense when Roddy White was double covered, Tony Gonzalez was bracketed, and Michael Jenkins had a sub-par year. Marty Booker was brought in and had little to no effect and Eric Weems was never able to catch on. The Falcons bring in a plethora of talent in 5th round draft pick Kerry Meier and Undrafted Free Agents Ryan Wolfe, Tim Buckley, and Brandyn Harvey. Eric Weems was a practice squad success story last year, could Troy Bergeron finally make the cut? Weems has an excellent opportunity to take hold of the slot, but he’ll have a ton of competition.
The drafting of Corey Peters at defensive tackle in the 3rd round surely gave a warning sign to at least one or more DTs that made the roster last year. Even though Jonathan Babineaux’s looming suspension will merit more bodies, there still is a plethora of talent at defensive tackle, not even including the guessing game on where Jamaal Anderson may reside. In addition to Peria Jerry and Jonathan Babineaux, other players will be fighting for their Falcon lives. Vance Walker, Thomas Johnson, Corey Peters, and Trey Lewis will be in a battle for 3 or possibly even 2 spots. Walker and Johnson both proved it on the field down the stretch and look to have the inside track. Journeyman Dan Klecko and big Trey Bryant (UDFA) will look to jump in the mix as well.
Its like asking Where’s Waldo? Many believed that Anderson had finally found a home at defensive tackle, after the beginning of the season. But according to the coaching staff, he rotates in and out at the defensive end and defensive tackle positions, much to the chagrin of fans. When asked about Anderson directly, Coach Smith responded that they like what they were seeing from Anderson at both positions, but that he would continue to play defensive end. Really? Anderson can bring much needed versatility to the defensive line, but how many chances does he get to prove himself at D-End? He’s had three years.
The Falcons carried 5 running backs in their active roster and for good reason. After starting out with a solid rotation of Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood, that rotation was quickly expanded to include Jason Snelling and the Birds even had to go out and pick up Aaron Stecker as a free agent, even after they inked Verron Haynes on the initial roster. They seemed to be poised not to make that mistake again, especially considering that Norwood and Snelling are both entering their final years of their contracts. Many believe that Antoine Smith is poised to make a serious splash after having an excellent career at Florida State. The Falcons also added RB Dmitri Nance to the mix as well. Should be a good one.
So many more questions, but we’ll save some for later.
If you’re headed to The Branch, take some mental notes and send your Bird Cage Guest Column on your thoughts from camp to be published in Sunday’s post. Shoot it via email to email@example.com
-How much stock do you put into Mini-Camp? A ton, or not so much?
-What are your biggest training camp battles?
-Can William Moore ever get healthy enough to win a starting spot?
-What should the Birds do with Jamaal Anderson? Please help them out.
-What’s your running back rotation? Who will win #5 RB spot?
-Can anyone help the aerial attack?