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Coleman Patrolling Defensive Backfield in Camp

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Coleman Patrols Defensive Backfield in Camp

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Five days into Russell Falcons Training Camp Erik Coleman is settling into his role at free safety. The free agent addition has a spot on the first team defense opposite Pro Bowler Lawyer Milloy and has made several quality plays against most of the team's wide receivers and quarterbacks.

Wednesday he got another interception in the middle of the field.

He looks like he's having fun because, well...

'I'm excited," he said. "You come out to practice every day in this heat and everybody is working. No one is complaining. We're out here working as hard as we can to get better as a team."

Coleman, a hard-hitting, upbeat player from Washington State, signed with the Falcons early in free agency. He spent the first four years of his career with the New York Jets totaling 49 starts, 351 tackles, two sacks and seven interceptions.

Coleman started the first 32 games of his career and posted 121 tackles in his sophomore season. His playing time dropped when the Jets went to a new head coach and defense in 2006. With a new opportunity in Atlanta, Coleman hopes to pick up where he left off.

"I'm out here trying to work at being the same player I've been," he said. "This defense really caters to me. I can get out there and control things and go out and play the game."

Playing next to Milloy only strengthen's Coleman's position.

"Lawyer is a great player," the safety said. "He's very aggressive and has played a lot of good years in this league. Right now I'm picking his brain trying to get myself better in the game. He does it right every time."

So far Coleman has guessed right on multiple occasions. Of course it's training camp and the Falcons offense has to work through the hiccups, but Coleman's making it tough for the team to work through the air.

He thinks the team is under-valued in the passing game, however.

"It's very diverse," he said. "You can't really get your mind set on stopping the run. We have a lot of weapons from Roddy White, to Michael Jenkins... We have a lot of weapons on this offense."

RYAN'S DAY: Quarterback Matt Ryan ran with the first team offense for part of Wednesday's practice and led the group to a late touchdown.

Head Coach Mike Smith said the practice schedule allows for multiple quarterbacks to work with the first string during camp. Wednesday was Ryan's day.

Ryan, the third-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft needed just three plays during the final team period before he found White deep down the left side for a touchdown. He also led the offense in a goal line setting and pushed the team out from its own 3 yard line.

In a two-minute drill, Ryan found White again for a touchdown. The play, which was the last of Wednesday's practice, was highlight worthy for White; he plucked the ball from the air after it bounced off Chris Houston's helmet.

"I'm starting to get a better feel with those guys," the rookie said of his receivers. "There's a number of guys I'm starting to get a good feel with. That's the beauty of camp..."

Smith said the team isn't close to making decisions about the quarterback competition.

FROM THE TRAINING TABLE: Defensive ends Jamaal Anderson (hamstring) and Willie Evans (ankle) returned to practice Wednesday. Center Todd McClure (back) missed another day but was on the field with sunglasses and a baseball cap taking in the action.

QUOTABLE: Cornerback David Irons on what the new coaching staff is doing off the field to help develop players:

“We’re meeting a lot more in order to understand the game and the system. I think by watching film, studying it and going out and practicing, it is helping us a lot. We’re coming together. We’ve got good chemistry.”

WEATHER REPORT: With just one practice scheduled, Smith worked the Birds in the heat of the day. While the temperature struggled to break 90, the 85 percent humidity did the trick for fatigue. One practice will be open to the public tomorrow. Look for a heat index of about 94 degrees.

FOLLOWING GRADY: Wearing a new, No. 91 jersey Grady Jackson took to the field for the first time since re-signing with the Falcons Wednesday. Smith said the team will ease the big defensive tackle into the routine.

“Grady is going to work individually and go through some drills," he said. "Then we will bring him on in a couple of days. We will slowly bring him back into the contact drills because he hasn’t participated in any OTAs.”

Jackson has competed in 155 games while compiling 507 tackles (362 solo), 33.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and a blocked PAT (2002) and field goal (1997).

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Coleman was a great player is a garbage system in New York, if he can duplicate 75% of his 2005 season were going to have a possible pro-bowl caliber safety.

That doesn't quite make sense as you stated it, but from everything I read, I agree that we may very well have a top notch safety in Coleman. If so, that will ease a huge concern in the secondary, though I still worry about the CB's

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That doesn't quite make sense as you stated it, but from everything I read, I agree that we may very well have a top notch safety in Coleman. If so, that will ease a huge concern in the secondary, though I still worry about the CB's

What do you mean? Coleman had his best year in 2005.

In 2006, Mangini came and his career died, along with injuries, hes looked lost in the system(Jonathan Vilma also).

It's pretty simple lol.

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