Minicamp ended for the Falcons on Thursday, and players, coaches and staff have about a month away from the facility in Flowery Branch before training camp begins.
Though he didn’t practice all three days, wide receiver Julio Jones said he will be ready for the season and is happy with his place on the team. Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that he and the Falcons are continuing to work on a long-term contract. Jones, who’s also nursing a foot injury, is scheduled to be the 13th highest paid receiver in the league in 2019, according to NFL stats. Tampa Bay’s Michael Evans ($20 million) is set to be highest paid, while Jones is at $13.4 million. The six-time Pro Bowler took more of a leadership role this minicamp, acting as a coach on the field and mentoring younger receivers during and after drills.
Former Georgia Tech and Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was in attendance for practice today, as coach Dan Quinn invited him in hopes of providing inspiration for the team’s younger players.
Even if his production has slipped, Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley said he doesn’t feel intimidated heading into an important season — both financially and on the field. The 2015 first-round pick skipped all team offseason programs after the Falcons picked up the $12.8 million fifth-year option on his contract instead of offering a longer-term deal.
Beasley, who compiled 15.5 sacks in 2016, has had only 10 sacks in the previous two seasons combined. Quinn said his project over the season is to help Beasley develop more moves off the line of scrimmage, so Beasley has different ways to get to the passer.
After skipping OTAs, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett reported for minicamp, but wore a hat instead of a helmet for all three days. Jarrett, too, skipped OTAs while he and the Falcons work out a long-term deal. The Falcons placed the franchise tag on the former Clemson Tiger in March and will pay him $15.2 million this season. On Tuesday, Jarrett deflected all questions from the media regarding his contract to the media. Heading into training camp, it’s possible Grady may continue not to participate if a long-term deal isn’t reached.
Matt Ryan has a problem every player in the league would dream of: How do you get better when you are already one of the best? The Falcons quarterback said he will continue to work on his strength and flexibility this season, and has enlisted professional help to do so. He also plans to organize a players-only camp to help the team create bonds together without coaches present.