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SBN ATL's Notes From Flowery Branch: Falcons-Patriots Practice

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SB Nation Atlanta rolled up to the Branch, got to pitch in at atlantafalcons.com, and has compiled a list of tackle football observations for you.

Your correspondent attended today's joint practices between the Falcons and Patriots. This humble blogger was lucky enough (thanks to the gracious Jay Adams, Falcons' new media producer) to get the callup for the day, writing the recap of the morning practice for atlantafalcons.com.

Items discussed therein, with quotes from assorted Falcons players: Alge Crumpler's return to the Branch, the difference in demeanor from last week's aggressive-ass practices with the Jaguars, and the helpful contrast provided by the Pats' distinct offensive and defensive looks.

A few other observations from the media lane, where Warrick Dunn, Jessie Tuggle, and Arthur Blank also trod today:

Offense

  • Here's what the Falcons think of rookie Kerry Meier's hands: he's on the first-team onside kick return unit (yes, there's a backup onside kick return unit), playing the designated we-hope-this-guy-gets-it-because-all-the-guys-in-front-of-him-are-linebackers spot across from Brian Finneran.
  • Matt Ryan spent a lot of time talking to Tom Brady. We are fine with this happening as often as it needs to.
  • Speaking of Meier, one setup saw him shift from receiver into the backfield, ultimately alighting at halfback. How many Kordell Stewarts is that worth?
  • Evaluating running attacks at camp is hard. But passing! Passing is easy. Randy Moss notched a pair of bombs, telling Mike Peterson after the second, "I'm done for the day." But the Falcons responded with crowd-pleasing "touchdowns" to Roddy White and Troy Bergeron, plus an amazing big play grab by Harry Douglas.
  • Alge Crumpler has been totally Belichized. We still love him, but we've lost him to the dark side, Birds fans. All Atlantishness has been scrubbed from his soul, as his post-practice interview was the most boring thing your correspondent listened to all day. BELICHIZED. Hey, you don't win three Super Bowls by being hilarious. Best of luck to Git Crump, a true Falcon and a true Patriot.

Defense

  • Overmuch-maligned defensive tackend Jamaal Anderson: um, he's good at football. We've heard say about him having a good camp, and, uh, it's true. At one point he split a Pats double team like it was a sampler platter, prompting Falcons defensive line coach Ray Hamilton to declare Extra A's effort "perfect."
  • Curtis Lofton's voice quickly becomes familiar, as he's constantly reminding his defense of playcalls and packages. Sean Weatherspoon serves as an emotional supplement, accentuating Lofton's practical advice with zing and pep. Summerall and Madden or Big Boi and Andre 3000, whichever you'd prefer.
  • Defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder is an intense guy. Bordering on all-caps-when-discussing-him intense. His best catch phrase: "take grass." It means "be assertive and advance towards the ball carrier instead of waiting for him to arrive." Your correspondent loves this, but never plays flag football this way, preferring to momentarily backpedal in the interest of making a sure flag pull. Coach Van Gorder would annihilate your correspondent for this.
  • Defensive highlights, besides Dominique Franks protecting this house: nickel back Chevis Jackson skied for a pick of Tom Brady, and free safety Thomas DeCoud broke up a very long pass. Technically, end Kroy Biermann had already recorded a sack on the latter play, but Brady didn't know that because this isn't actual football.

Potpourri and Local Color

  • He blocks, he runs, he greens, and now he air drums and air guitars. You've always thought of "Livin' on a Prayer" as the most unnecessarily popular stadium song. This was until the song came on the PA and fullback Ovie Mughelli instantly worked through an entire game of invisible Rock Band 2 while leading backs through a skippy cone drill. Now you've changed your tune. You've changed it to another tune because you only like "Livin' on a Prayer" when Ovie's around.
  • The defense's adoption of the high five as its official celebration has evolved into some sort of Harlem Globetrotter layup line, with Mike Peterson's raised palm as the basket. Spinning high fives, no-look high fives, and behind-the-back high fives.
  • The Falcons have way, way more fun than the Patriots do. Teach Me How to Dougie was blasting during one stretching event, and Spoon, Franks, and Dmitri Nance all held down solid Dougie coverage for about a net minute. Not Crumpler nor any other Pat Dougied. (I can't believe that's a real sentence!)

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.