FLOWERY BRANCH – Made my first trip to Falcons training camp Monday and I’m already inured. I feel like Jerious Norwood.
Actually, my ailment was just temporary blindness. I was caught looking at Roddy White’s socks.
With red and black stripes stretching from the tops of White’s shoes up to his knees, I thought maybe the Falcons had moved their training camp to “Whoville.”
“I call them my swagger socks,” White said after the morning practice. “I can’t get wear them in a game or I’d get fined. Actually, I think this might be my last day wearing them in practice because I did terrible today. Dropped a couple of passes. Coach [Terry] Robiskie was on me about my socks all morning.”
White said the socks came in the mail from a fan.
“I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to try to these out.’ But not any more. I’m retiring the socks.”
“He’s blaming the socks?” coach Mike Smith said later, smiling. “I’m glad to know that. Those might be the ugliest socks I’ve ever seen.”
Here comes The ‘Spoon Express
OK, enough with the fashion news. It was an impressive morning practice for the sounds. It was the Falcons’ first full-pad workout of training camp and no player seemed to relish that more than first-round pick Sean Weatherspoon. The linebacker practically took off running back Antone Smith’s head in a drill, exciting the fans and defensive teammates. Everybody else, notsomuch. Smith had a different viewpoint.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t hit somebody when they’re in a defenseless position,” the coach said. “Sean’s a passionate player. … He didn’t know — when he made that hit we were in a ‘thud’ situation.”
“We’re thudding him up, giving a little pop, but we’re not taking him down to the ground,” Smith said.
What do you call it when you’re taking guys down?
“Full speed — i.e., football.”
Smith said Weatherspoon quickly was apprised of the “rules” by coaches “and the guys in the other color jerseys.”
Hint: Defense wears white, offense wears red.
Do you have to shout? (Well, yes)
Another early observation: Brian VanGorder is quite loud. I know BVG loves to exercise his tonsils in practice but the defensive coordinator was absolutely killing some players in practice, notably cornerback Chris Owens. Part of that can be attributed to VanGorder’s personality. I’ll speculate another reason is something Smith told me last May: “One thing I’m personally trying to avoid is the sense of complacency because we’ve been here for two years now. If you think you have all the answers, you don’t. We can’t stay status quo. We have to make some changes. … I’m not going to change the way I’ve done my job in the first two years. I’ll demand more simply because we’re in the third year and I expect more.”
That attitude from the head coach filters down to his assistants.
Smith said VanGorder might’ve been particularly loud this morning because the Falcons were working on third-down defense. “That was one of our Achilles heels last year,” he said. “That migut have been one of the reasons he was [screaming] that segment.”
That’s slim in the backfield
It’s hard to tell much from one practice but running back Michael Turner seems to be moving better than a year ago, when he struggled with weight and injury problems.
“At this point I do feel quicker, faster, stronger,” he said. “It’s tough to say right now, but I feel like I’m in it for the long haul now. Conditioning wise, health wise, I feel good. … I’ve been missing out on [wearing full] pads since November, early December. It felt good to put the pads on again.”
So there’s my early report. I’ll let you know if the socks make another appearance.
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