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D.J. Shockley Interview - 7/31/08


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Shockley starts to gain ground in QB race

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 08/01/08

Flowery Branch — D.J. Shockley is starting to make this quarterback competition with the Falcons more interesting.

Over the past few days Shockley has begun to hit his stride, and in Thursday morning's practice, he finally got his turn to work with the first-team offense. Coach Mike Smith was impressed.

"I thought D.J. threw the ball very well," Smith said. "He threw a couple passes, one in the team situation, one in seven-on-seven, that were very good. D.J. didn't get to go through [offseason workouts] like the other quarterbacks, so it's good to see him out there."

Shockley said his confidence has increased recently in large part because his bigger role. The former University of Georgia standout had been working mainly as the No. 4 quarterback because he missed practice time this summer recovering from a torn left knee ligament that ended his 2007 season.

Medically cleared, he's getting up to speed and putting himself in the mix with Chris Redman, Joey Harrington and Matt Ryan.

"Things have gotten better the last few couple days because I've gotten more reps and more time to shine," Shockley said. "The one thing I'm battling with is mentally being ready when my time is called. My opportunities have been limited, so I've got to be ready and be able to make plays when I get my chance."

Busy weekend of scrimmages ahead

After a brief punting and kicking workout, the first-team defense will face the first-team offense in a scrimmage Friday at Mill Creek High School, where Smith hopes to get in 60 to 80 plays.

At noon Saturday at the Georgia Dome, the team will go through a mock game with everything from stretching to running out for introductions and the national anthem.

"The coaches will go up into the box there at the Dome, and we'll actually communicate like we are going to on the following week in Jacksonville," Smith said. "It's really a dry run."

Admission is free for both events, and fans attending Saturday's mock game at the Dome are can enter through Gate D. There will be open seating. Tickets for player autographs will be available at sponsors booths.

James' headaches cause checked

Rookie linebacker Robert James, a fifth-round pick from Arizona State, was having a solid camp before missing practice with an unknown head condition.

"Robert has had some headache issues," Smith said. "We're not sure if its migraines or a concussion. We are working on that."

Safety Lawyer Milloy (toe), defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (groin) and wide receiver Laurent Robinson (buttocks area) all missed the practice.

Wide receiver Joe Horn suffered a hamstring injury in the morning and missed the afternoon practice.

New arrival Grady Jackson sees field

Defensive tackle Grady Jackson took part in seven-on-nine drills.

"It was nice to see him in there taking a couple of snaps with the team," Smith said. "Hopefully we can get him fully indoctrinated to the system by next week."

— Staff writer D. Orlando Ledbetter contributed to this report.

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