FLOWERY BRANCH -- The NFL's school rules are impacting the Atlanta Falcons Organized Team Activity workouts.
Cornerback Desmond Trufant, the team's first-round draft pick who's slated to start, can't participate in OTAs per league rules because his class at the University of Washington has not graduated.
Tight end Levine Toilolo, a fourth-round pick from Stanford, also can't participate. Both are expected to become available in time for the team's mandatory minicamp June 18-20.
Trufant is allowed to contact secondary coach Tim Lewis and the team is using Skype as a way to video conference him into meetings.
"Obviously, you'd like for them to be here, but he's going to be graduating and walking with his class, which is an important milestone in his life," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "I think it's a good rule. He's going to miss some opportunities on the field, but we've got a plan in place that we've been executing. There are a lot of ways that you can communicate with technology now in terms of having meetings."
Smith is confident that Trufant is getting the mental part of the defensive scheme.
"It's just the physical part and the bonding part of being here with the rest of his teammates," Smith said. "He comes from a line of football players, so he knows what it's all about. He's a very mature guy. We'll get him here as soon as the rule allows."
The Falcons elected to part ways with three of their top five cornerbacks from last year over the offseason. They used their top two picks in the draft to select Trufant and Robert Alford in the second round.
In addition to Trufant and Toilolo, veterans Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White did not take part in the voluntary OTAs this week.
Linebackers Sean Weatherspoon (knee surgery) and Stephen Nicholas (sports hernia surgery) and rookie defensive end Stansly Maponga (ankle surgery) also did not practice because of injury.
Deon Googins, a reserve fullback who played defensive tackle at Syracuse, was waived Wednesday.
BANKS UPDATE: Linebacker Brian Banks, who was signed this offseason after being exonerated of rape charges last May, is making progress.
"Now, he's just trying to get his body going in the right direction and know where he's going to go," linebackers coach Glenn Pires said. "That's what he's doing right now. It's the same thing for all of our rookies."
Banks is being closely watched by the defensive brain trust, which is looking for help at linebacker.
"He's a mature person," Nolan said. "He takes it very serious. It's not just fun and games like it is for some guys at times. ... It's unfortunate that he hasn't played in a long time because that does show at times, too."
Quote to note: "Robert Alford is doing an excellent job. As far as Desmond (Trufant) goes, (missing OTAs) puts him behind a little bit. But at the same time, I know that he's communicating everyday with Tim Lewis and he's Skyping and doing things like that. As Tim has stated many times, he's very bright and he picks things up really well. It's different when you are picking things from just talking as opposed to doing it because the bullets fly much faster out on there on the field than they do on a telephone. I'd rather have him here, but he's not. I think he'll catch up." -- Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on Desmond Trufant missing OTAs because the University of Washington has a late graduation.Strategy and
personnelLeft tackle Sam Baker, left guard Justin Blalock, center Peter Konz, right guard Garrett Reynolds and right tackle Mike Johnson were the first-team offensive line.
Lamar Holmes, who spent all of last season at left tackle, was moved over to right tackle and was running with the second unit. He's competing for the starting spot.
"It was nice to see Lamar Holmes come out and handle his business at the right tackle position," Smith said.