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Smith eager for start of training camp


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Smith eager for start of training camp

'We have definitely gotten younger and faster on the defensive side'

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Mike Smith eased up out of the leather chair behind the desk in his office and calmly walked over to the window.

“Look at this,” Smith said.

He looked out the huge window, which overlooks the Falcons’ sprawling practice fields, and couldn’t contain the smile on his face last week.

There were six players, including linebackers Mike Peterson, Stephen Nicholas and Tony Gilbert, tight end Ben Hartsock and rookie defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, running sprints.

The players were getting a jump on the opening of training camp, which is Saturday, Aug. 1.

“I want us to be the best that we can possibly be as a team,” Smith said. “It’s important that our guys are always striving to improve.”

After posting an 11-5 mark, coming within seconds of winning the NFC South title and making the playoffs in Smith’s first season, he wants to follow that with another successful season.

Longtime Falcons fans are hoping Smith’s second team can end the dubious streak of never posting back-to-back winning seasons. (The franchise is entering its 44th season.)

If that’s any additional pressure, Smith is not feeling it. He appears much more relaxed entering his second training camp and even more enthralled as a former defensive coordinator who will get a chance to stamp his impression on the team.

Last season, the Falcons spent a lot of resources on the offense, adding quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and left tackle Sam Baker. The key challenge this season will be to replace five starters on defense, including longtime Falcons stalwart and five-time Pro Bowl player Keith Brooking.

There wasn’t a big free-agency spending spree for the defense. Peterson, a 10-year veteran, was the team’s only free-agent signing of note, and he received a modest two-year contract worth $6.5 million.

Instead, the Falcons will turn to young players, such as Nicholas and cornerback Brent Grimes, to see if they can win starting positions. Also, they spent seven of their eight draft picks on defense and hope that some of the rookies, especially first-round draft pick Peria Jerry, step forward.

“We have definitely gotten younger and faster on the defensive side of the ball,” Smith said. “That was one of the things we felt we wanted to do, younger, faster and more urgent.”

Peterson is set to replace Brooking at weakside linebacker, but the other four holes — strongside linebacker, cornerback, safety and defensive tackle — could be manned by four first-time starters and possibly two to three rookies.

“There will be a learning curve, and hopefully that learning curve will be accelerated through training camp and the preseason,” Smith said.

With Brooking and safety Lawyer Milloy not returning, there will be an apparent leadership void on defense.

“Leadership is not something that you are entitled to,” Smith said. “It’s something that you earn. ... it’s based on how you perform on the field. We have guys who are ready to step up and become leaders.”

In addition to re-formulating the defense in his likeness, Smith has other pressing matters entering this training camp.

The team wants to ensure the continued development of quarterback Matt Ryan, who won several rookie of the year awards last season. The trade for 10-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez was part of the plan to give Ryan another weapon that will help him mature faster as a NFL passer.

Also, the Falcons don’t want to lean as heavily on running back Michael Turner, who ran for 1,741 yards on 394 carries and scored 17 touchdowns in 17 games last season.

“We know that he can’t sustain 370 carries over a number of years,” Smith said. “We definitely know that we have to reduce the load that we put on him this year.”

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It's amazing how TD and Coach Smith are molding the team from the selfish, undisciplined gimmick team that McKay, Petrino and Mora formed into a high character fundamentally sound team that is one of the youngest, most talented teams in the NFL. Kudo's to TD and Coach Smith and like always thanks for nothing McKay.

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I hope this is the begining of a Cult!

Does anybody in their right mind question Mike Smith being the

Best Coach that we have ever had?

Smitty is just "The Man".....

So just try to imagine for a moment that all our players

show up to camp early and do this for the Coach and the Team.

In this day and time that would just be something special.

It is what Legends are made of.

Lets give these players some Props at the open practices.

Why do this you ask?

The players will appreciate it.

Cheers

Y'al

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thanx for posting. Its good that Moore is working out also, but it would seem to be more of a "team" thing to be working out with you own team instead of former college teammates. :huh:

Im just glad he is working out period..... really dont matter where......i understand you are saying its a team thing but its a week before camp.... he may come in town early.... As long as he is in shape and ready for camp,... Im cool with it..... Miami players does the samething

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Im just glad he is working out period..... really dont matter where......i understand you are saying its a team thing but its a week before camp.... he may come in town early.... As long as he is in shape and ready for camp,... Im cool with it..... Miami players does the samething

jay cutler did the same thing up until i think last season where he started working with scheffler and marshall in tennessee. but a bunch of players do that like you said. malcom jenkins from ohio state is/was working with his ohio state guys at a camp not to long ago.

as long as moore is working and is in shape then its all good.

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Guest Gritz

A lot of players do that (train with old college teammates like Moore's doing) the first couple of years they are in the NFL. I wouldn't be surprised if this is just a one year thing for Moore and he does all of his workouts at the Branch from now on..... ;)

But like the others have said, the fact that's he's working out between the OTAs and the start of training camp is the important thing....... ;)

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It's amazing how TD and Coach Smith are molding the team from the selfish, undisciplined gimmick team that McKay, Petrino and Mora formed into a high character fundamentally sound team that is one of the youngest, most talented teams in the NFL. Kudo's to TD and Coach Smith and like always thanks for nothing McKay.

God, I hate when people say that. Sure, McKay didn't get us a Superbowl, but neither as TD to this point. McKay got us some very talented players, including one of the guys that was mentioned in the article, Stephen Nicholas, who the staff is very high on. He got us Roddy, Jenkins, Blalock, and Houston as well.

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I was hoping to see the list of names ending with Jamal Anderson. I dont want to come across like his dad but I hope he is working his tail off as well to finally produce a respectable season. Im not only referring to the sack numbers but just his overall impact. We really need him to establish his presence in some capacity this year. Thats why I was disappointed his name didnt appear in the article.

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I was hoping to see the list of names ending with Jamal Anderson. I dont want to come across like his dad but I hope he is working his tail off as well to finally produce a respectable season. Im not only referring to the sack numbers but just his overall impact. We really need him to establish his presence in some capacity this year. Thats why I was disappointed his name didnt appear in the article.

J.Mike said he has seen him around

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God, I hate when people say that. Sure, McKay didn't get us a Superbowl, but neither as TD to this point. McKay got us some very talented players, including one of the guys that was mentioned in the article, Stephen Nicholas, who the staff is very high on. He got us Roddy, Jenkins, Blalock, and Houston as well.

SHHH dont say stuff like that. Dont you know we are suppose to diminish any and all positive things that have ahppened in the past??

the fact that most of the offense , including 4/5th the oline, 3 of top 4 receivers and full back were left over, not to mention back up tailback that will shoulder more of the load this year...... not to mention 3/4 of the Dline , half the special teams unit, and potentially half of the secondary............ none of those matter

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Also, the Falcons don’t want to lean as heavily on running back Michael Turner, who ran for 1,741 yards on 394 carries and scored 17 touchdowns in 17 games last season.

“We know that he can’t sustain 370 carries over a number of years,” Smith said. “We definitely know that we have to reduce the load that we put on him this year.”

That's good to hear.

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