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Jake Matthews-Vic Beasley Battle Highlights Falcons' Padded Practice


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Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The third day of Atlanta Falcons training camp featured pads, so it allowed the coaches to get a closer look at the toughness of their players.

One battle stood out more than others: the one between first-round draft picks Vic Beasley and Jake Matthews.

The rookie Beasley, expected to inject life into the pass rush, showed his speed and quickness. But the left tackle Matthews, who had his left plant foot surgically repaired following a Lisfranc ligament tear, went toe to toe with Beasley without issue. He held up well when Beasley tried to dip inside.

"This was really my first time getting a chance to get live reps since the last game," said Matthews, Atlanta's top pick in 2014. "I can definitely tell [beasley] is a really good player. I'm excited that we drafted him. He's going to make me a lot better. And hopefully, I'm going to make him a lot better."

Coach Dan Quinn certainly noticed the intense competition between the two.

"It was one of the matchups I just couldn't wait to see because Jake wasn't able to participate [in the offseason]," Quinn said ."I see guys going, 'I got you this one; you got me that one. I got you this one.' And that's how you get better. The great thing about those two is the competitive spark,'OK, you got me that one, I'm coming back for the next one.' I think that [battle], we'll be watching for a long time."

Quinn spoke in general terms about what he saw from the pass rush, which is one of the big areas of emphasis this season.

"We had a third-down period at the end. That's kind of the time now where we can see who has the featured stuff with pads and how to do it," Quinn said. "I thought it was a good first start at it. We're trying to throw as many people in there as rushers as we can to see which unique combinations work best together. ... Long process ahead for that."

A few quick-hitters from Day 2 of training camp:

  • The offensive linemen, as a whole, appeared to have their troubles adjusting to the outside zone-blocking scheme. There were numerous times when a lineman took a dive to the ground, and not because he was attempting to making a block. It will take time, particularly with guys coming off injuries.

  • Matt Ryan singled out rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy again, and for good reason. Hardy looks fluid and catches the ball so well. Ryan threw a perfectly placed deep ball that Hardy caught in stride down the sideline during 1-on-1 drills. Rookie cornerback Michael Lee was the defender.

  • The unheralded player of the day was linebacker Allen Bradford, who really made his presence felt throughout practice. He deflected a pass in coverage early and displayed some speed and quickness later on. The former Seahawk seems to fit the fast-and-physical style Quinn always preaches.

  • Starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder and starting weak-side linebacker Justin Durant pretty much were held out. Schraeder continues to recover from a hamstring strain but expects to be back in the mix Monday. Durant, who has been plagued by injuries in the past, received what Quinn called a scheduled day off. Tyler Polumbus stepped in for Schraeder with the first-team offense while Nate Stupar took Durant's place with the first-team defense.

  • The musical playlist for practice included Dorrough ("Ice Cream Paint Job"), Jeremih ("Don't Tell 'Em"), and Jidenna ("Classic Man").

Hopefully these two young men have a long and successful career opposite of each other on the Atlanta Falcons.

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I was expecting an actual Highlight tape or some kinda video but that might just be me...

The title doesn't read that way at all to me. It reads that the most interesting part of camp was the Beasley vs. Matthews battle.

You saw highlights and quit reading. You've got the attention span of a teenager. :)

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Ok, title aside - it was exciting to read. I love it when our guys push each other to be better. I was expecting good things from Beasley and worried about Jake. Sounds like Jake is coming along fine. That's great news. Having a good competitive battle between those two can only make the team better.

On another note - I like the little blurb about the chemistry that seems to be growing between Ryan and Hardy. Sounds like another area where we could see some improvement.

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It doesn't say their is a video but it is still misleading OP knows sticking the word highlight in there will up the clicks

The title isn't OP's and if you're ignorant enough to click on something because it says highlight then I have the highlight of your day as I will sell you some beachfront property in Kansas.

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