Yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons began preparations for their home opener this Sunday at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn is excited about raising the curtains on the 2016 season and looks forward to putting his competitive roster on the field.
“It’s such an exciting time to kick off 2016 officially,” Quinn said in his opening statement. “We’ve spent a bunch of time together this offseason, players and the coaches, building that connection and I guess that’s why we’re all so excited to build this bond even stronger, even with our fans and getting a chance to open up at home in front of them and kind of demonstrate all the things our toughness, finish, and resiliency to our city and fans. We’re pumped to do that. It’s an exciting day.”
Defensive ends Adrian Clayborn (shoulder) and Dwight Freeney (back) and safety Kemal Ishmael (shoulder) fully participated in Monday’s practice.
“We went through the whole offseason and put a whole plan together to start this season off, and we’ve got a really competitive tough roster of guys who love battling for one another and I hope that clearly demonstrates itself on the field to you guys and to the fans,” Quinn said. “We have a couple injury notes. The only guys that’ll be limited today will be Julio Jones and Terron Ward. Other than that, we’re doing well. We anticipate those two being at full strength for Wednesday’s practice and they’ll participate some today.”
Quinn also discussed yesterday’s acquisition of wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. He said Gabriel’s speed really jumped out in their evaluations. Special teams coach Keith Armstrong will delve into Gabriel’s kick and punt return background to determine if he will have a defined role besides offense. There’s no timetable as far as when Gabriel will be ready and up to speed regarding learning the offense and special teams play. However, Quinn will assess progress after Wednesday’s practice.
Monday, the Falcons signed running back Gus Johnson and cornerback Deji Olatoye to their practice squad. Johnson comes over from the San Diego Chargers and previously spent a portion of the 2015 season on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad. Olatoye also comes over from the Dallas Cowboys after being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. With the Cowboys, Olatoye played in five games, started two of them and recorded 10 tackles and one interception.
The Falcons are off today and will practice Wednesday at Flowery Branch. They will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Kickoff is at 1pm and will air on Fox.