Linebackers Nick Clancy and Joplo Bartu had strong showings during the team’s rookie minicamp, which concluded on Sunday.
The Falcons didn’t pick a linebacker in the draft and Clancy, of Boston College, and Bartu, of Texas State, both were signed as undrafted rookie free agents.
“Clancy and Bartu did a nice job in the special teams stuff and that’s really where those young linebackers are going to get their first opportunity to contribute,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “They both can run. We definitely saw that and I like the size of them.”
Clancy backed up Luke Kuechly at Boston College before taking over at middle linebacker last season. Kuechly was drafted by Carolina and was named the league’s rookie defensive player of the year after last season.
Clancy led the ACC and ranked fourth nationally with 145 tackles. He was named to the all-ACC first team.
Bartu started out last season playing defensive end, but was moved to linebacker. He made 71 tackles over his last five games, including 16 tackles against Louisiana Tech and Navy.
“They are very athletic,” Smith said. “This is a big, athletic group in terms of the size of the guys. We have some guys with some really good size.”
Clancy is 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds. Bartu is listed at 6-2, 230.
In addition to the two linebackers, free safety Kemal Ishmael, one of the team’s three seventh-round draft picks, had a big practice.
“He had the interception and he took the ball away,” Smith said. “That was a nice play. These guys heads are swimming, but you could see that at the end of the practices they had a better understanding than where they were two days ago and that’s what we really wanted to get accomplished today.”
Abraham update: Former Falcons defensive end John Abraham, who turns 35 Monday, is not retiring, according to a NFL.com report.
He tweeted “Retiring 13” and “Done” on Saturday night before later deleting the tweets.
Since being released on March 1, Abraham has visited Denver, Seattle, New England and Tennessee.
The Falcons have since signed former New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora and drafted two defensive ends, Malliciah Goodman (fourth round) and Stansly Maponga (fifth round).
Several fans want the team to re-sign Abraham, a fan favorite who’s racked up 68.5 sacks over seven seasons with the team.
“We never say never,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said recently. “There is a lot on the horizon. We have some decisions to make across the organization, but we never say never as far as acquiring or bringing people back.”
Tryouts players: Last season, the Falcons signed three players – tight end Aron White, fullback Lee Meisner and wide receiver Kenny Stafford – after they received tryouts at the rookie minicamp.
“I think there were some guys who really showed the skills that they had,” Smith said. “We’ll be making some decisions over the next couple of days in terms of if there is going to be any roster moves. There were some guys that came in here on a tryout basis who did a really nice job.”
Etc: Former Falcons offensive lineman Tyson Clabo signed with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday… . The Falcons have three weeks of coaching sessions before starting their organized team activities on May 28. …The mandatory minicamp is set for June 18-20.