- Julio Jones saw his most extensive practice action since undergoing right foot surgery and looked like the Jones of old after sitting out one day. His explosion was evident with every step, and he blew past Desmond Trufant on a play during one-on-one drills. "He's looking good, man," Trufant said of Jones. "To come back like he did ... he didn't do any of the (organized team activities). He was just doing rehab. He didn't miss a beat. That's exactly what we want to see. And he's going to definitely have a comeback season this year." Trufant joked that he got the best of Jones, 2 to 1, during the day. Regardless, Jones was spectacular and in sync with Matt Ryan. Despite how he looked Sunday, the Falcons won't change the game plan with Jones just yet. He'll be off again Monday.
- Speaking of Trufant, he was at left cornerback Sunday after lining up at right cornerback at the start of camp. He was primarily the right cornerback last season. "Just wherever they play me, that's where I'm at," Trufant said. "Whatever they want me to do, that's what I'm willing to do." Both Trufant and fellow cornerback Robert Alford got plenty of work going up against a healthy Jones and Roddy White. "That's what a team is about: It's about giving each other a look," Trufant said. "And getting a look like that, I can't ask for anything better, Roddy and Harry (Douglas) included. We've got a good group of receivers. We've got a good secondary. Whoever we face, we're going to be ready."
- Two rookie linebackers really showed up throughout Sunday's practice. Fourth-round draft pick Prince Shembo continued to make the adjustment from outside linebacker to inside and tipped away a T.J. Yates pass in coverage. His play was singled out by coach Mike Smith. "I'm just learning," Shembo said. "When I'm in there, take advantage of my opportunities. That's what I'm trying to do." Although Shembo continues to work with the second team, he has a shot to crack the starting lineup ahead of Joplo Bartu. Undrafted outside linebacker Jacques Smith also looked strong all around and tipped a pass as well.
- The Falcons will have their first padded practice on Monday afternoon, giving the coaches a chance to get a better evaluation of what progress the players have made. "Well, we're getting as close as you can get to play real football tomorrow," Smith said. "We won't completely play real football because we're not going to cut block in practice. It's going to be a great evaluation, especially for the interior players on both sides of the line. We will get true evaluation starting tomorrow." Rookie Ra'Shede Hageman, Malliciah Goodman and Jonathan Massaquoi will be some players to watch.
- First-team free safety Dwight Lowery had an interception, as did third-teamer Sean Baker. ... Safety William Moore wore a compression sock on his left leg at the start of practice but eventually took it off. ... Cornerback Josh Wilson received some medical treatment late in practice for what might have been related to cramping or a hamstring issue, but he continued. ... Devin Hester again made some impressive catches. ... Outside linebacker Kroy Biermann (Achilles) sat out, as scheduled, with Stansly Maponga running with the first team in place of Biermann.
They see a player with tremendous upside; a player who allows defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to be more exotic with his defensive fronts.
Goodman is just in his second year and maturing daily. He could be one of those players who stands out when the Falcons conduct their first padded practice on Monday afternoon.
"Malliciah, I think, is going to be a guy that can play a number of our packages and play different roles," coach Mike Smith said. "I think that Malliciah will play in our base package, he'll have a certain role. In our big sub-package, he'll have another role. In our sub-package, he'll have another role. So I think those are good questions that we have to answer because he can line up in many different places.
"I think as we go through the preseason, I think his strengths are going to become more defined. And we're going to be able to put him in those places where he's going to be able to play to his strengths."
Speaking of strength, Goodman bulked up this offseason in preparation for being more physical up front.
"I'm about 288, 290 (pounds) right now," the 6-foot-4 Goodman said. "I was in the mid-270s last year. I've just been eating, working out, putting the right things in my body. I've been having a high intake of calories and protein. Just working hard. My max (bench press) weight really improved. I feel a lot better in the trenches going against the guys."
Goodman played in 14 games last season. He played just 29 percent of the defensive snaps.
With the Falcons switching to a 3-4 base scheme and attempting to be multiple with their other looks, Goodman continues to try to find his comfort zone despite moving around a lot. New defensive line coach Bryan Cox has helped the adjustment.
"I'm getting very comfortable playing inside with the 3-technique (defensive tackle between guard and tackle)," Goodman said. "Last year, the defense was a little different. Now I'm inside playing the 3 and playing the 4 and 5-technique (3-4 defensive end). So I've been working on that with Coach Cox. He's been getting out of me.
"I'm more comfortable with the 3, just because of repetition. The going back and looking at the playbook and looking at Babs (Jonathan Babineaux) and also Tyson (Jackson), just studying them and seeing how they play blocks, how they strike their guy. I'm just learning about leverage and learning about that first step and what to look at. You've got to stop looking in the backfield and look at your guy; don't to be too anxious to jump in there. Just kind of be patient."
The Atlanta Falcons left tackle, back from last year's season-ending knee surgery, hopped back with a quickness to block the rushing Umenyiora's path, then thwarted Umenyiora's rushing angle with a quick 1-2 counter of hands slaps.
Tice rode Baker about tweaking his pass set to help protect quarterback Matt Ryan better. Specifically, it's been about Baker setting more straight back rather than out toward the defensive end. Baker's previous method made him more susceptible to inside moves.
"He's actually changed it up quite a bit," Baker said of Tice revamping his set. "That's good because, going against a guy like Osi every day, he'll kind of get you into bad habits because he's so elusive and has a bunch of different moves.
"What (Tice) wants is a consistent set with a change-up every once in a while. But it's been really good for me."
Baker's play was really good two seasons ago, when he started all 16 games and helped keep Ryan upright during a 13-3 season and NFC Championship game appearance. But he wasn't foolish enough to overlook the shortcomings in his game even back then, particularly in terms of his set.
"I think I didn't change it up enough," Baker said. "I think I got real predictable with a lot of things. At one point, it was a lot of people that were knowing what (I) was doing. So, that's why I think (Tice) is going to help me a lot. He's such a good teacher. He'll tell you, 'Hey, this is what the problem is. This is how we're going to fix it.'"
Coach Mike Smith emphasized the importance of guys like Baker perfecting their sets in preparation for the regular season. Remember, Ryan was the most pressured quarterback in the league last season as he was sacked a career-high 44 times.
"To me, it's the key to being a good pass blocker," Smith said. "Everybody talks about the feet. It's not always about the feet. It's about the ability to set based on where the quarterback is going to be. And you also have to factor in where the defensive end is aligned. I think it does take an understanding of angles. It also takes an understanding of hand placement when you meet the rusher at the intersection point.
"I think it's very, very critical. I think it's often overlooked. ... The technical part of pass blocking is probably more important than anything. Sometimes, guys who are lesser athletes have been outstanding pass blockers because they understand angles and they understand hand placement."
Perfecting technique is the first step in Baker settling back in at left tackle. The other is remaining healthy coming off a significant left knee surgery.
Baker seems to be moving fine after missing 12 games last season, primarily due to his knee. Initially, he was concerned about the results following surgery.
"It was a patella repair, so it was one of those things where when I talked to Dr. (James) Andrews, he wasn't quite sure how it was going to go," Baker said. "But I feel good."
Baker hasn't worn a brace to start camp and didn't wear one much of the offseason.
"I always felt like it reduces the range of motion, with as much running as we do," Baker said. "It really hasn't been a problem up to his point."
- It was interesting watching the pass-rushers continue their development under fiery defensive line coach Bryan Cox and outside linebackers coach Mark Collins. Players such as Jonathan Massaquoi, rookies Ra'Shede Hageman and Jacques Smith, and Malliciah Goodman showed some nice rush moves against various offensive linemen in one-on-one drills. Goodman took Terren Jones to the ground on one play. Hageman did nice work with getting his hands up toward the quarterback while rushing inside. There was spirited competition all-around between the offensive and defensive lines and pass-rushers.
"You can see it's very competitive in a number of areas, the areas that we kind of been discussing all offseason," coach Mike Smith said. "We get through one more day tomorrow and we'll get an opportunity to really evaluate these linemen when we get into the pads."
- Veteran newcomer Josh Wilson continued to work as the primary nickel back ahead of incumbent Robert McClain and Javier Arenas. Don't read too much into yet, however. Smith said all three players should get a chance to be the primary nickel during the exhibition games, so it's an open competition now. It also makes sense to get Wilson more work because he's not as familiar with the defense as McClain.
"It's a competitive situation,'' Smith said of the nickel spot. ``We're going to give about three guys the same amount of reps. ... It's tough because 65, 67 percent is going to be your sub and the other 35, 33 are going to be base. Those guys are going to have to show what they can do in a little different situation. It's not like they're going out there and getting all the snaps that we're going to run in our training camp.''
- Speedy Bernard Reedy continues to impress as an undrafted receiver. He seems to catch any ball within his range with ease and has a second gear that helps him explode by defenders. ``Yes, Bernard is very fast,'' Smith said. ``He's got elite speed. He ran by some guys yesterday. He's got a better understanding of what we're trying to do. I think he's definitely one of those guys who's going to be in the mix for a roster spot. We know we have our big three (Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas), Devin Hester, Drew Davis coming back. We've got to make a decision on our 53-man roster, whether we're going to have five or six wide receivers.''
- Smith reiterated the plan with Julio Jones, who was held out of Saturday's practice as a precaution coming off foot surgery. He'll take every other day off for the first week of camp and be evaluated. Jones only did agility drills on a side field during Saturday's practice. And outside linebacker Kroy Biermann (Achilles) will be off Sunday as part of the two days on, one day off schedule he's on. A couple of those days fall on days off, so Biermann will miss just one true day of practice.
- Desmond Trufant put in extra time after practice working on his skills. He continued to line up at right cornerback. ... Hester drew the biggest reaction of the day while catching a deep ball in one-on-on drills. ... Rookie linebacker Prince Shembo made a nice deflection of a T.J. Yates pass that earned praise from his veteran teammates. ... The Falcons signed wide receiver Jabin Sambrano to fill the roster void left after receiver Darius Johnson was waived. Johnson told the team he had enough of football and was considering coaching at his college, SMU, as a grad assistant.
Folks around here had grown so accustomed to Michael Vick wearing that uniform, considering the on-field excitement the quarterback provided during his six-year stint with the Falcons. But it all came to an abrupt end when the team released Vick in 2009 following his prison sentence on dog fighting charges.
Being that the team is far removed from Vick, the Falcons have issued his No. 7 jersey for the first time since his release. Jeremy Ebert, just signed this week, now wears the number. Ebert is a possession receiver, so it's doubtful he'll stir up any memories of Vick.
- The big news of the day was Julio Jones returning to practice for the first time since suffering a right foot fracture in Week 5 of last season. Coach Mike Smith said Jones will be limited during camp with one day on, one day off. Jones showed no ill effects while planting and cutting. His reps were limited during full-team drills and one-on-one coverage drills. "I thought it was very good," Smith said of Jones' first day. "You guys saw it. He was running routes very well. I thought the timing between he and [quarterback] Matt [Ryan] was good. We have a plan, a prescription that we're going to try to stay by for the first couple of weeks, and then we'll make an evaluation after that. It was great to see Julio back on the field."
- Smith promised camp would get a little physical. Outside linebacker Kroy Biermann and rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews got into a scuffle that led to a punch thrown. Remember, Biermann missed most of last season with an Achilles tear, so he's no doubt itching to get back at it. "Kroy has not been able to be out on the field … I'm sure he's excited about it," Smith said. "And I'm sure that Jake is not going to back down from anybody. I imagine we'll have some of those types of battles all through training camp. Those things are good. It keeps it spirited, and we're going to have spirited football practices here in Flowery Branch up to the start of the first game."
- The offensive line will be on the spot going into the season, so seeing some fight from Matthews on Day 1 was a good start. It also was impressive new starting right guard Jon Asamoah seemed to shove guys around with ease. He was on the attack against defensive end Tyson Jackson, his old teammate in Kansas City. Tackle Lamar Holmes, who is on the roster bubble, showed fight going against Tyler Starr in pass-rush drills, while veteran newcomer Gabe Carimi seemed to be frustrated with his performance during the same drill.
- Smith declined to go into detail about why the team waived second-year receiver Darius Johnson before practice. Johnson contributed as a reserve receiver last season. "No, I'm not going to comment on the reason that Darius was released," Smith said. "We never do. But there was a transaction that we put in today, and he's no longer a member of our team."
- Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi, the guy the Falcons are counting on to provide a consistent pass rush, took a few plays off after grabbing his hamstring. But Massaquoi said he was fine despite being stretched out by a member of the training staff, so it might have been cramps. He returned at the end of practice.
Johnson played in 10 games, starting two. He caught 22 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown.
Jones is back in the fold this season and White is expected to be healthy. Behind them is Harry Douglas and Drew Davis, who is unlikely to be ready to start the season after having foot surgery.
Return specialist Devin Hester should see some time at receiver as well, and veteran Courtney Roby could make an impression during training camp. Roby is considered to be a top gunner on special teams, which makes him more valuable to keep around.
Undrafted rookie Bernard Reedy from Toledo made an impression this offseason. If he continues, he will make it hard for the Falcons to cut him.
The Falcons signed possession receiver Jeremy Ebert this week as another camp body.
Although Jones will be on a limited schedule during camp, fellow receiver Roddy White isn't overly concerned about his tag-team partner's practice routine.
"I don't have any other concerns with him because we're like brothers. I want to see him be on the field throughout the whole season and just watch him destroy the NFL."
The Falcons held Jones out the entire offseason while he continued to recover from a second surgery on his right foot. He played in just five games last season and was on pace for 130 catches and more than 1,800 yards. In June, Jones expressed confidence in a full recovery without any lingering issues.
The precautionary approach with Jones this training camp is something White believes is necessary.
"I'd go with it every year to get to [the season opener] with everybody as healthy as possible and everybody rolling on all cylinders," White said. "Whatever it takes for him to get to Sept. 7 and be healthy, that's what I want to do."
White had his own health issues last year in dealing with a high ankle sprain and hamstring injury. He was held out a good portion of the offseason, in large part to grieve the loss of his younger brother, who was murdered back home in South Carolina.
In terms of how his body is feeling going into camp, White was asked if he expected to be limited at all.
"I don't know," he said. "I haven't gone over the schedule or anything yet. But probably not, because I didn't do too many OTAs [organized team activities]. We've got to work on timing."
"You're going to see Kroy Biermann and Julio Jones participating in practice today," Smith told 92.9 the Game. "Those guys have worked extremely hard getting back. We're going to limit their snaps. They will be as close to full participants as they can.
"Kroy will work two days and take a day off to start with. And we'll evaluate after Week 1. And Julio, we're going to give him a day off every other day to start with. We should have those guys by the beginning of the season at 100 percent and ready to go, and that's the No. 1 goal. We want to be as healthy as we possibly can."
The Falcons have three players starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list: receiver Drew Davis (foot), defensive tackle Corey Peters (Achilles), and safety Zeke Motta (neck surgery). Motta is not expected to play this season.
Smith sounded optimistic about Peters.
"We anticipate Corey Peters to hopefully get off of (PUP) very quickly," Smith said. "He's been working extremely hard off of his Achilles."
White, who turns 33 in November, signed a four-year extension on Thursday worth a maximum value of $30 million.
The full details of White's contract should be available in the coming days, but he told ESPN.com the contract includes escalators in 2017 and 2018 tied to his catch total.
According to White, he could add another $2 million to his base salaries in 2017 and 2018 by catching 80 passes, likely in the year prior. White said he could add another $3 million to his base salaries in those two years by catching 90 to 100 passes. It's unclear exactly what White's base salaries are in '17 and '18.
Of course, meeting such incentives will be tough for an aging receiver, but White seemed optimistic regardless. He had 80-plus catches in six of his first nine seasons and surpassed 100 catches in back-to-to-back seasons (2011, 2012).
Julio Jones will be the focal point of the offense moving forward, provided he is fully recovered from foot surgery. The added attention Jones is likely to draw from opposing defenses should open up more opportunities for White. Plus the loss of tight end Tony Gonzalez to retirement means more of an emphasis on both Jones and White in the passing game.
But White still has a significant challenge ahead of him if he hopes to reach those escalators. He pointed to Reggie Wayne as motivation. Wayne, at the age of 33, caught 106 passes in 2012 for the Indianapolis Colts.
We'll see if White can max out his contract. He already earned the guaranteed money he sought all along.
"I'm getting a roster bonus this year of $3 million and my base is going to be $2 million, and then they're going to give me $5.5 million in March," White said. "So the for the next nine months, I'm going to get $10.5 million."
That's a guarantee.
Many players had yet to report during the hour made available to the media. But at least center Joe Hawley pulled into the lot, fulfilling his promise when team mascot Freddie Falcon asked who was coming to camp this year.
The Falcons' media relations department said all the veterans reported, while all the rookies reported Tuesday. Here's a quick wrap-up of the few players that stopped to talk to the media.
- Defensive tackle Corey Peters, who begins camp on the physically unable to perform list following last year's Achilles' tear, continues to target the season opener against New Orleans (Sept. 7) for his return. Peters isn't expected to do much in the preseason, even when cleared to practice. But he hopes not to start the regular season on the PUP list, which would sideline him for the first six weeks of the season. "I'm excited about it. I'm very optimistic about everything," Peters said. "Hopefully as the days move forward, we'll be closer to getting back on the field." Peters suffered the injury in a Dec. 23 loss at San Francisco last year. He did some light jogging toward the end of minicamp.
- Wide receiver Drew Davis, also on the training camp PUP list after undergoing foot surgery, doesn't look like he'll be ready to start the season. His left foot was in a walking boot as he scooted his way into the training camp quarters. Davis was placed on the PUP list July 5 after having the procedure following some discomfort. Coach Mike Smith initially called it as six-week injury, which would have put Davis back on the field for at least the last two preseason games. But there is a concern about Davis' availability to start the season. He was not available to talk to reporters Thursday.
- Defensive tackle Peria Jerry is entering a critical stretch. The former first-round pick hasn't played up to expectations and appears to be on the roster bubble, with players such as Paul Soliai, Tyson Jackson, and rookie Ra'Shede Hageman now in fold. Jerry suffered another setback last season with a knee sprain, but he seems to be beyond that injury. "I feel real good, real confident with myself," Jerry said. "You've got to go out each and every year and try to prove yourself. You know, we're just going to see what happens."
- Newcomer Josh Wilson is ready to compete for the nickelback position against Robert McClain and Javier Arenas. "I think that every time we have a chance, everything is competitive out here," Wilson said. During minicamp, Wilson did a lot of playful jawing with receiver Harry Douglas, so we'll see if that continues with the cameras from HBO's "Hard Knocks" rolling throughout camp.
- Running back/special-teamer Josh Vaughan and safety Kemal Ishmael were among the other veterans spotted on report day. ... Pass-rusher Stansly Maponga also was hanging around inside the building. ... Roddy White eventually showed up to sign his four-year contract extension. ... Rookie right tackle Jake Matthews made a cameo appearance on his way to sign autographs.
With the crew of HBO's "Hard Knocks" set to dissect the Atlanta Falcons' every move during training camp, the team avoided adding unnecessary drama to the equation.
In signing veteran wide receiver Roddy White to a four-year extension that includes $10 million guaranteed, the Falcons kept themselves out of a potentially messy situation.
Although White said Thursday, "I don't think I would have held out" and missed the start of training camp on Friday, the Falcons certainly didn't want the extension to be any type of distraction. The Falcons need White to be a happy camper, and need everyone to be on the same page going into such a critical season. They are trying to make last season's 4-12 implosion a distant memory, and the last thing the team needed was for one of its most respected players to feel disrespected.
White, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver, expected all along to be a Falcon for life, particularly after the team expressed its desire to keep him in the fold. He simply wanted the organization to keep its word and follow through with what he anticipated would happen after the draft.
Extension talks hadn't even started until this week. The initial process was put on hold as White mourned the loss of his younger brother, who was shot to death in South Carolina in May. The team gave White his space as he grieved.
Negotiations heated up Tuesday, but there was some concern that a deal wouldn't get done. Then White's agents flew in to meet with the team Wednesday night, and the sides obviously worked diligently to get matters resolved before reporting time.
White brings levity to the locker room, along with a swagger. His vibe rubs off on the younger players. And, by the way, White can play a little bit, too. Although he turns 33 in November, his production toward the end of last season showed he has plenty left.
If White remains injury-free -- he was hampered by ankle and hamstring problems last season -- he should be ready for a productive season with tag-team partner Julio Jones (foot surgery) back in the fold.
"As long as I can stay healthy, I'll be a successful football player in this league," White said. "I don't feel like I'm down a step or I can't go out there and play. I've watched guys like Reggie Wayne before his knee injury, and he'd go out there every year and have 1,000-yard seasons. That's how I see myself, as that type of player.
"If I don’t get hurt, I feel like I can always be an elite wide receiver in this league -- especially for the next two or three years."
Things are looking up for the Falcons. Let's see how the rest of the drama unfolds.
The deal is worth up to $30 million, including $18 million over the next two seasons, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
"I always wanted to be back in Atlanta,'' White told ESPN.com. "Once we got to the guaranteed money that I wanted to get to that I felt would secure my future as a football player, then I could sign a contract.
"When we got it done, I was happy, because I don't want to go anywhere. I love this place. I wanted to be here. And I'm going to be here for the next four years.''
White said the sides agree to terms at 1 a.m. ET on Thursday morning.
White, who will turn 33 in November, was set to enter the last year of his contract in 2014. The four-time Pro Bowler expected an extension before training camp started on Friday.
Veterans are set to report Thursday afternoon, and White might not have showed without a new contract.
The former first-round pick had six consecutive seasons of 1,000 receiving yards before last season. Hamstring and ankle injuries limited him to 13 games and 711 receiving yards last season, but White picked up his production toward the end of the season.
Since entering the league in 2005, White's 685 receptions rank eighth among active players, while his 9,436 receiving yards rank fifth. His 55 touchdown catches during that time also rank 10th in the NFL.