Because of the nature of their position and the leap from college football to the pros, there’s no way around the hard lessons that are coming this summer and fall for Falcons rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford.
In fact Trufant acknowledged that the education started in earnest during the three-day minicamp that concluded Thursday. Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White were the teachers.
“They’ve humbled me, to be honest,” Trufant said. “They are big. They are strong. They are fast. They are just getting me better every day as I’m just competing with them.”
In Falcons coach Mike Smith’s view, Trufant and Alford will have a chance to make an immediate impact once they get acclimated. He said cornerback is a position at which rookies can quickly have success compared with other positions that take longer to learn.
“It’s really about their athleticism because so much is matchup coverages,” Smith said. “Those guys have the skill set you are looking for in a corner. They can match up and play against the wide receivers. Now, they’ve got to learn our system, learn our verbiage, know when they are having help and how we are going to play the different coverages.”
The rookie cornerbacks are learning that during OTAs, minicamp and training camp. Trufant got a late start as he finished classes at the University of Washington.
“Everything was brand new at first,” he said. “Obviously, I came a couple of weeks late, but I hit the ground running. Studying once I got here and using my athleticism, I caught up.”
Injury report: Smith said defensive end Stansly Maponga is the only player on the roster who isn’t certain to be healthy by the start of training camp. Maponga, a fifth-round draft choice, had foot surgery in March.
Smith said fullback Bradie Ewing has made a quick recovery after suffering an ACL injury during the first exhibition game of 2012. Smith said Ewing practiced with no limitations during the minicamp and should be “full speed” for training camp.
“We were a little concerned his weight was down during the rehab, but he’s been able to put it back on,” Smith said.
Smith said cornerback Asante Samuel (ankle) and safety Thomas DeCoud (leg) sat out practice Thursday as a precaution.
“We really wanted to get our young corners and our two draft-pick safeties as many reps as we possibly could,” Smith said.
Camp schedule released: The Falcons’ training camp schedule, released Thursday, includes 13 practices open to the public. All sessions will be at the Flowery Branch facility but an Aug. 2 evening practice at City Park Stadium in Gainesville.
The Falcons are scheduled to hold combined practices with the Bengals on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6.
Etc.: Running back Jason Snelling was excused from practice Thursday because of a death in his family. … Smith said defensive end Osi Umenyiora’s absence from practice Thursday was pre-approved. … The Falcons promoted Karl Pierburg to senior director of football systems. Pierburg directs the technology systems for the team’s scouting and coaching staffs.
Staff writer D. Orlando Ledbetter contributed to this article.