Training camp is back and there’s a lot to talk about.
It’s Friday morning and training camp is in full swing, so of course it’s time for Falcoholinks. Maybe coffee, too, if you have time.
Carter’s on a brief and well-deserved vacation, so I’ll be grabbing the links this morning. There are a ton worth looking at, so let’s goooooooooo.
For a great recap of training camp yesterday, check out Kevin Knight’s roundup here or check out his first camp edition of Falcoholic Live with Adnan Ikic.
Grady Jarrett loves the new energy
I don’t remember the last time we saw Jarrett so excited. One of the team’s true leaders and best players, he was one of the most candid and accountable guys in the locker room during a difficult year in 2020. Now, with Arthur Smith and company on board, he’s seeing the promised accountability and work and clearly is relishing it.
As Michael Rothstein at ESPN wrote, Smith is trying to be hands-on at practices and get this team to where he wants them to be, which is nowhere near the depths they were at in 2020. Jarrett praised what he’s seen so far with what felt an awful lot like an unsubtle dig at the twilight years of the last regime.
“It’s deeper than the message. It’s about putting the product on the field, about putting the work in,” defensive lineman Grady Jarrett said. “He made it clear, we’re not going to be about slogans and all this whatever it may be.
“The best player is going to play. The toughest dude is going to play and ain’t no fluff. Going to try to get the best out of everybody day in and day out and I can’t do nothing but respect it. I love that about him.”
As Jeff Schultz at The Athletic wrote yesterday, it’s tough to have expectations of any kind for this team after a tough offseason and after the past few years, even though Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith clearly do. Dan Quinn’s slogan-heavy, positive approach to coaching won him a lot of fans on his football team and in the media in the early years of his Falcons tenure and he’s already seeing a positive reception to it in Dallas. Sometimes a tonal shift is both welcome and needed when your team gets stuck in a rut as badly as the Falcons did the past three seasons, and it’s clearly welcome here.
Matt Gono, Deadrin Senat will miss camp
Kaleb McGary might be back sooner—we certainly hope so—but the team’s presumptive swing tackle and a player who was set to compete for a reserve role on the defensive line won’t be in training camp.
Arthur Smith confirmed that Matt Gono will be out for camp with an ominous note about hoping to get him back at some point, and Deadrin Senat will be out too. If Gono’s absence stretches well into the season it opens the door for Jason Spriggs to make the team as the swing tackle, while Senat probably has no shot of carving out a reserve role for himself with a packed depth chart now.
The Julio Jones exist still stings Arthur Blank
The Falcons owner wants to win, obviously, but Blank is also an owner notable for his loyalty toward players and coaches. He gave Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff one more year than any of us expected, he’s been vocal (sometimes, I’d argue, too vocal) about making certain players “Falcons for life” and he wants very much to believe in people. That’s all admirable, but when it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, you can wind up stung by it.
He’s clearly feeling that way about Julio Jones, as he said yesterday. As Tori McElhaney at The Athletic wrote, Blank said he was not expecting Julio to want out of Atlanta as of the end of the 2020 season and is clearly unhappy that Jones is gone and that he never got to directly say goodbye.
“I was unable to speak with him myself,” Blank said of Jones, “though I tried to.”
“We had a 10-year relationship and it was a good relationship,” Blank said. “It was certainly productive. He was a Hall of Fame player. I was disappointed he felt that way. For whatever reasons, I am not sure.”
Julio’s off to Tennessee now and the Falcons are moving on with Calvin Ridley as their new #1, and many fans are ready to wash their hands of the future Hall of Famer and get to the season. For Blank and everyone else, questions about how the relationship soured so badly are likely to linger.
Falcons dominate the early 50s
Not the 1950s. Even if the Falcons were around, it’s fair to doubt they would’ve been doing anything resembling dominating. I’m talking about the latest entry in Will McFadden’s uniform history, where all five winners are Atlanta Falcons. That includes the great John Abraham, so go give it a read and support everyone’s favorite ex-Falcons pass rusher.