5 things we learned at Falcons’ minicamp

The Falcons, the defending NFC champions, finished their mandatory minicamp and offsesason program Thursday. The team will reconvene in late July for the start of training camp.

Here are the five things we learned from the minicamp:

1. Functioning on the field. Coach Dan Quinn wanted to see how the team would operate with the coaches on the sidelines throughout the minicamp.

“That was as important as anything, to see us function as a group,” Quinn said.

Also, the younger players received most of the repetitions.

“Not just the rookies, but guys who maybe don’t have a lot of experience going into Year 2 or 3,” Quinn said. “We wanted to get to know them more. We wanted to get to know some of the free agents we added in the offseason more. That’s the Jack Crawfords and Dontari (Poes). We were trying to check those boxes.”

2. The return of Julio Jones. Although wide receiver Andre Roberts suffered a back injury Tuesday, Quinn expects a healthy squad for training camp.

“Looks like, for the most part, we are going to have everybody for camp,” Quinn said. “That part I’m excited about barring any setbacks over the next few weeks. It’s a good strong and healthy group.”

First-round pick Takkarist McKinley is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

“I know he’s been working really hard with the therapist back in L.A., but we’ll get a better update as we get closer to camp,” Quinn said.

Wide receiver Julio Jones (left foot surgery), defensive end Adrian Clayborn (biceps surgery) and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (lower leg strain) and Roberts are expected to be healthy for camp.

3. Defensive line remake. Defensive line coach Bryant Young is overseeing the remaking of the defensive line. It was clear at the minicamp, even with McKinley out, that he has several options.

Crawford, who was signed as a free agent from Dallas, had a great minicamp.

“Jack is relentless in his pursuit,” Young said.

Also, the Falcons welcomed back defensive end/tackle Derrick Shelby from his Achilles surgery.

“I think the progress for him has been good,” Young said. “He’s been able to get in to some of our individual stuff and group work as well.”

With Shelby and Crawford in the defensive end group, the Falcons will have some deep when you count Vic Beasley, Clayborn, McKinley and Brooks Reed. Also, Ra’Shede Hageman and Courtney Upshaw played some end last season, too.

“We have some guys that can play,” Young said.

4. Daniels football journey. Quinn caught some people off-guard when he talked about how well B.J. Daniels was playing at running back.

The former quarterback and wide receiver, who’s thrown passes, returned kicks and caught passes in the NFL, was moved to the backfield.

Daniels, who played quarterback at South Florida, signed with the Falcons Dec. 18 and was placed on the practice squad. He later signed a reserve/future contract Feb. 7.

Daniels, 28, has bounced around the NFL since he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 draft by San Francisco as a quarterback. He’s spent time with 49ers, Seahawks, Texans, Giants and Bears.

He’s played in eight NFL games and rushed for 2,068 yards and a dual-threat quarterback in college.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” said Daniels, who’s 5-foot-11 and 217 pounds.

The Falcons are deep at running back with veterans Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward. They also drafted Brian Hill in the fifth round from Wyoming.

Daniels is a long shot. Even if a roster spot or a long-term career remains elusive, Daniels seems to be enjoying his NFL experience.

“It’s been nothing, but fun,” Daniels said.

5. International players. The Falcons, with an exemption for English rugby player Jake Gray, will carry 91 players into training camp.

In addition to Gray, the Falcons have wide receiver Anthony Dable, who’s from France and offensive tackle Andreas Knapppe, who from Silkeborg, Denmark.

Gray, who’s a bit raw, will also get a look at fullback.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

Austin twins hope to get their shot in the NFL 
Austin twins hope to get their shot in the NFL 

All Lance and Lawrence Austin want is a shot to make an NFL team. Both did their best to impress NFL scouts at Georgia Tech’s Pro Day on Friday. After the cornerbacks finished their drills, Falcons coach Dan Quinn stepped forward. He wanted the defensive backs to work some Falcons-specific drills and had assistant coach Charlie Jackson put...
Tweetcap of Georgia Tech’s Pro Day 
Tweetcap of Georgia Tech’s Pro Day 
Here are some highlights from Georgia Tech’s Pro Day, which was held on Friday: <div></div><br><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Here at <a href="https://twitter.com/GeorgiaTechFB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GeorgiaTechFB</a> Pro Day. <a href="...
Falcons pass on free agency to keep building through the draft  
Falcons pass on free agency to keep building through the draft  

General manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn need to have a T-shirt made for Falcons fans that reads: “Keep calm. Free agency is for teams with major holes.” The co-team builders are comfortable with their roster and have repeatedly stated that they plan to take care of their own players. The Falcons did sign guard Brandon Fusco...
McCloud put on a show at Clemson’s Pro Day 
McCloud put on a show at Clemson’s Pro Day 

Former Clemson wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud could have benefited by returning to school for his senior season. “I prayed about it,” McCloud said Thursday. “I woke up one morning and said it was time to go.”  There’s no turning back now. McCloud went to the NFL scouting combine and performed for NFL scouts at Clemson&rsquo...
Tweetcap of Clemson’s Pro Day: Wide receiver Deon Cain has disappointing showing 
Tweetcap of Clemson’s Pro Day: Wide receiver Deon Cain has disappointing showing 
Clemson’s Pro Day is over.  TheY had 17 players workout, but only seven -- and no projected first-rounders – made NFLDraftScout.com’s top 500 player list.  “I was out here to watch these guys compete,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said on Thursday. “Some of these guys are living the dream of having a Pro...
More Stories