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Falcons start offseason workouts


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Dana Point, Calif. — Falcons head coach Mike Smith was beaming ear to ear.

He said he’d receive a “good report” from the first day of offseason workouts.

He told the AJC that defensive tackle Trey Lewis, linebacker Robert James and running back Thomas Brown were all medically cleared to participate.

The Falcons let defensive tackle Grady Jackson leave via free agency and have not replaced him with a veteran. So the news about Lewis, who is coming off of two knee surgeries, was important.

Lewis was off to a promising rookie season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2007. He missed all of last season after re-injuring the repaired knee while walking down the stairs. Lewis might be able to help offset the loss of Jackson.

Robert "The Beast" James led Arizona State with 106 tackles. He was a fifth round pick, 138th overall in 2008.

Robert James was nicknamed "The Beast" at Arizona State.

James, who was nicknamed “The Beast” in college, was a fifth round pick last season. He missed the season with a head injury. The Falcons are in the midst of re-vamping the linebacking unit. James was called a “run and hit” linebacker and might be able to help next season.

Brown, a seventh round pick from Georgia last season, appeared to have the team made as a kickoff returner before a horse-collar tackle took him out with a groin injury.

Smitty wasn’t as forthcoming about the secondary. We told him we were having trouble figuring out what they were doing at safety. We told him about a “no-cover, no-hit” 46-year-old safety they might be over looking. He said “you can find plenty of those.”

Falcons running back #27 Thomas Brown returns the opening kickoff for a long gain during 1st quarter action against the Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Saturday, August 9, 2008. Curtis Compton/ AJC

Falcons running back #27 Thomas Brown returns the opening kickoff for a long gain during 1st quarter action against the Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Saturday, August 9, 2008. CURTIS COMPTON/ AJC

Georgia safety Reshad Jones #9 gets his hand on a pass caught by South Carolina tight end Jared Cook #84 in Georgia's first SEC game (a win 14-7) last season. RICHADDICKS@AJC.COM

Georgia safety Reshad Jones #9 gets his hand on a pass caught by South Carolina tight end Jared Cook #84 Iast season in Athens. RICH ADDICKS/AJC

Also, tight end Jared Cook is coming in for a visit. He’s a local player from North Gwinnett High and South Carolina and will not count against the limit of pre-draft players the Falcons can bring in. The Falcons flirted with signing free agent L.J. Smith and may be looking for a receiving tight end in the draft. The draft is considered to be deep at that position.

Those were the Falcon highlights of the AJC’s first day at the Owner’s meeting.

The overall highlight was running into Condoleezza Rice in the hall way of the hotel. The former Secretary of State and super football fan spoke to the Owners on Sunday night.

Team Prez Rich McKay and Tennesse head coach Jeff Fisher, co-chairs of the competition committee, went over the rule changes and points of emphasis for next season. Nothing major, other than banning low hits (Tom Brady rule) on the quarterback. They stopped short of saying they’d just let the QB’s wear skirts or kilts.

If they are out there with the ball, set to do damage to the defense then they should be able get hit anywhere. But in the name of player safety, they can’t be hit in their lower extremities. Players can reach out with their arms and take the legs out, but not lead with the pads.

The theme of the rule changes was player safety. The wedge on kickoff returns will become a thing of the past. Only two-man wedges will be allowed. Call that one the Kevin Everett rule. No more busting up the wedge and ending up with a devastating neck injury.

The AFC coaches speak Tuesday morning. The NFC coaches speak on Wednesday.

Excited about Lewis, James and Brown being back? What about the rule changes?

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