0

Smith in good mood as Falcons wrap minicamp

Reuters Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith stands on the field during minicamp this week at the Falcons Training Complex in Flowery Branch

Reuters Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith stands on the field during minicamp this week at the Falcons Training Complex in Flowery Branch

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Sans pads, it's difficult to get a true read on where some Atlanta Falcons players stand in the competition for roster spots.

But head coach Mike Smith was cheerful about the direction things are going on the last day of minicamp Thursday at the team's training facility in Flowery Branch.

"You can evaluate what our players know mentally, but the physical play, this is non-contact in the offseason," Smith said. "I really am very pleased with the way our guys finished our non-game playing season. They've been very focused. They adjusted well on Tuesday when we had to go inside (because of rain), came out, had a good practice yesterday and they came in today and finished off strong.

"The competition was good and we've got a lot of tape to evaluate on these guys for the next seven or eight days."

Thursday wrapped up the three-day minicamp on the heels of several weeks of OTAs, where all but a few players were present.

"The veterans, they'll be out of here in the next 30 minutes," Smith said with a chuckle as players concluded the camp with an autograph session for fans.

The rookies will remain for a few more days of work and then they, too, will be leaving.

It's been valuable time for the Falcons draft picks who were immersed in the team's systems. With veterans either excused or held out as a precaution -- as corner Asante Samuel and safety Thomas DeCoud were Thursday -- the rookies saw a lot of reps.

Competition was also good on the right side of the offensive line.

"As I've said many times, we've got to have seven guys that can go play," Smith said. "It's going to be a mix and match. Lamar Holmes, Mike Johnson, Joe Hawley and Garrett Reynolds, I think, are really competing for those spots on the right side.

"We've got our starting center (Peter Konz) that has played guard for us. That gives us some flexibility. Mike Johnson has played guard and tackle for us. We feel really strong about Lamar Holmes, our third-round draft pick. It's time for these guys to step up and we feel very confident that they will."

After this, Smith wants all the players to unplug for a few days before returning to their conditioning routines. The team reports for training camp on July 25.

"You can't win games in the offseason, but you sure can lose them," Smith said. "You want to make sure you've got everybody healthy so we've got to continue to be diligent in our workout programs. We need to be as strong as we possibly can be at the start of the season because it's a long, taxing season for the players both mentally and physically.

"Our No. 1 goal in training camp is going to be to get as many guys prepared because it's a long season. We've got to have depth across the board. Then to make sure we're as healthy as possible. That's not easy to do when you're practicing in pads."