The Atlanta Falcons have one goal in mind heading into the 2013 season: a Super Bowl Championship. Expectations are high for this team that devoted the offseason to fixing the gaps in the roster that prevented them from an opportunity to play for a championship last season. After one week of training camp, it is apparent that the coaches and players have certainly put in the effort to make the dream of a super bowl championship a reality.
The most notable performance after a week of team practices is the level of play from wide receiver Julio Jones. After giving up pork and beef in the offseason, Jones showed up to camp weighing 229 pounds of pure muscle that has allowed him to run routes with impressive body control. Jones has always been the most physical wide out for the Falcons but he also provides an impressive trifecta of speed, power, and agility.
Franchise quarterback Matt Ryan spoke with reporters after camp speaking highly of Jones’ performance this past week saying, “Man he just continues to get better. He’s coming into his third year. I think he’s really starting to come into his own in terms of his confidence and understanding what we are doing offensively”.
Though Jones has impressed everyone at camp with his work effort and performance, coaches still say that Roddy White is the franchise’s number one receiver. The Falcons offense is easily going to be one of the best in the league with the double threat of White and Julio as well as Harry Douglas, Jacquizz Rodgers, Stephen Jackson and don’t forget about Tony Gonzalez.
Speaking of the legendary tight end, Gonzalez has been absent for most of camp due to prior commitments to his son Nikko that he had made before he came out of retirement. When asked if his absence would affect his play this season, Gonzalez and head coach Mike Smith assured everyone that a few missed training camp practices would not affect the seasoned veteran or the team.
The only questionable aspect for the Falcons is the quality of the defense. After giving up 24 and 17-point leads in both of their playoff games, the Falcons defense is the area that needs the most improvement. Rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are going to be relied on quite frequently so training camp has been the first chance to see how they would perform. Having to defend the Atlanta Falcons’ offense with White and Jones playing like they are is a daunting task for rookies. However, coaches have been impressed by their performance so far despite the difficulties of defending two of the best receivers in the league.
Finally, the feel good story of the offseason about exonerated linebacker Brian Banks has continued to get better as Banks has lived up to expectations so far at camp.
Though there is still some doubt as to whether or not he can be successful in the NFL after not playing college football, linebackers coach Glenn Pires said, “I think he’s taken advantage of the offseason. He’s progressing well like all of the other young guys. I think he’s going to have the opportunity…He had a good offseason. He works hard. He’s very conscientious and ready to compete when we get ready for the preseason games.”
Though the defense still needs work, Falcons fans should be getting excited for the upcoming season. We will get a better idea of the Falcons potential once preseason games begin but so far the team has definitely lived up to the hype.
For more of the highlights from week one and to see some sights and sound from Flowery Branch check out this video recap from the Atlanta Falcons!