Flowery Branch – Here with the Dawn Patrol at Falcons HQ, where the first session of Training Camp 2010 has just commenced. I’d love to tell you this is going to be one of our live chats, but it isn’t. Falcons decree: Can’t have a laptop on the field.
So here’s what I’ll do: I’ll run out, watch a bit and check back. Hope that’s OK with y’all.
9:10 a.m. update: A key development has been unearthed. Mike Smith is sporting a shorter, sleeker haircut. Moving from one field to the other, he stopped to shake hands, and I noted this tonsorial alteration. (Even though Smitty was sporting his pith helmet, his new ‘do was noticeable.)
“A training-camp haircut?” I asked.
“A training-camp haircut,” Smith said, laughing.
“Kind the opposite of a playoff beard,” I said.
“Playoff beards are a lot more fun than training-camp haircuts,” he said, and then he was off.
9:30 a.m. update: Getting a bit more interesting. Offense and defense are going against one another, kind of. Sean Weatherspoon looks sleek. Michael Turner looks a bit sleeker than he did last summer, though my eyes might well deceive. Dunta Robinson, as esteemed colleague D-Led notes, is being moved from side to side.
9:45 a.m. update: The Falcons have bowed to the heat. They took a little break and went in the cooling areas — there’s a chilly mist in there — and are now practicing without helmets.
I have to say: You don’t often see a football team work without helmets. Kind of neat, actually.
10:10 a.m. update: The helmets are back on, and the two lines were going at it. Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Babineaux made some nice pass-rush moves.
In other news, esteemed colleague Jennifer Brett reports that Biermann is dating one of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
10:40 a.m. update: Practice ended a few minutes early. Mike Smith said, “There was great energy through practice the entire day.”
It must be noted that there will be another practice this afternoon at 3:45 p.m. It will be hotter then, and the energy might dissipate accordingly. But Smith had an answer when asked why the Falcons have so many two-a-days.
“Some of those two-a-days are really only one-a-days,” he said. “Every fifth practice is for special teams. If guys aren’t on special teams, they’re not out here … And 20 to 25 minutes of every practice are without helmets. That’s from the Bill Wash and Denny Green school, and that’s the way we did it in Baltimore.”
Talked to Tony Gonzalez. He’s excited. Talked to John Abraham. He’s enthusiastic. There’s a real feeling that this team is close to doing really big things. And yes, I know every team says the same after the first practice, but my feeling is that these Falcons have the wherewithal to back it up.