The stage was set for the Falcons to show off their latest defensive acquisition in Asante Samuel, but it was the wide receivers who stole the show on the first day in Flowery Branch. A welcome sight was Julio Jones, who looked like a man possessed for much of the day. Working against a variety of CBs he even turned around Samuel in coverage while he sprinted for a nice catch over the middle.
Jones set the tone for most of the day. Matt Ryan and the offense looked in mid-season form, which culminated with the biggest play of the day-- a 40 yard completion to Harry Douglas. Players reported that Ryan had more 'zip' on the ball, which is very encouraging. Ryan had made it a point to increase his arm strength this off-season, and that seems to be paying dividends already.
On the defensive side of the ball it was more about what players were saying, rather than anything stellar we saw on the field. Sean Weatherspoon looked to be taking more of a leadership role, as he comfortably pointed out assignments and motivated his teammates. It's of vital importance that a leader emerge in the linebacking corps following the departure of Curtis Lofton. It's encouraging to hear a young player take the next step.
If you're looking for an idea of how the defense will look in 2012 Kroy Beirmann gave you a pretty good idea:
With two more days of practice including one open to the public we'll get a much better sense over the next 48hrs of how the team will look.