The Falcons OTAs began this week, starting from May 20th-21st and continuing on the 23rd. They will also take place on May 29th-31st, June 3-4th, and end on June 6th. These workouts are voluntary, but unless players have a convincing excuse, it’s encouraging to see them out there prepping for the season with the whole team. With that said, the only thing the Falcons are looking to avoid this early on is significant injuries, which has not started as well as they would like.
On Monday, defensive end Steven Means tore his Achilles in a non-contact injury. Means wasn’t going to be the cure to Atlanta’s pass rushing problem, but he did show enough to earn a one-year contract. Now, the Falcons are left with three (somewhat) reliable options on the outside – Vic Beasley Jr., Takk McKinely, and Adrian Clayborn. John Cominsky was also drafted in the fourth round. He played on the edge in college but might translate into more of an interior defensive lineman as he fills out.
Sticking with the defensive end position; everybody’s favorite Falcon, Vic Beasley Jr., is absent from OTAs. The infamous underachiever is coming off a dreadful season and hasn’t shown much promise since being named an All-Pro in 2016. Despite that, Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn went out on a limb and decided to pay him his 5th-year option of $12.8 million.
When asked about the decision to bring him back, Quinn repetitively mentioned how he couldn’t wait to have a “hands-on” approach with Beasley. That’s a beautiful thing to say to the media, but how can anyone buy that a heralded defensive line coach like Quinn hasn’t been working hand-in-hand with the first player he drafted as a coach. I talked about it at the time – that was nothing more than coach speak. Vic Beasley skipping OTAs only furthers my point.
Other notable Falcons that missed OTAs include Deion Jones, Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett, and Adrian Clayborn. Of course, Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett are both looking for contract extensions. Although, all signs point to Julio avoiding another holdout as he did a year ago. According to Dan Quinn, both he and Deion were absent because they were rehabbing from injuries. Adrian Clayborn was excused from the workouts.
There were a couple of intriguing storylines in the Falcons secondary. Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal were both present. According to ESPN’s Vaughn Mcclure, the two were working on the side, but still, it puts a smile on my face seeing them back out there. As far as players who were actively participating, Damontae Kazee – last year’s star replacement at safety – was working as a nickel corner. That position is up for grabs now that Robert Alford and Brian Poole have moved on to greener pastures.
Perhaps the best thing that happened all day, however, was seeing Devonta Freeman on the field again and claiming to be 100%. He’s had an extended offseason after only playing in two games last year, and Quinn says he looks like his “old self” out there.
Stay tuned for updates as the Falcons continue OTAs in the coming weeks.
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