We have spent the last three weeks, on and off, out at the Falcons facilities in Flowery Branch.
During that time we interviewed lots of players, coaches, execs and special guests.
We watched dozens of hours of practice, with and without pads, walk-thrus, and more.
Here are our Top5 favorite moments / takeaways from the 2014 Atlanta Falcons Training Camp:
5) The food is great. Ok, this has nothing to do with the team’s performance so far, but these players, coaches and staff are fed top grade food. And we would expect nothing less from an owner like Arthur Blank.
Our own Marc James, from Marc & Randy, was live at camp too. Marc has covered Panther’s training camp in the past because he came to us from Charlotte, NC. We were eating lunch one day in the player’s cafeteria and I noticed Marc looking around and taking it all in. I asked him, ” What’s up?” to which he replied, “This place is a palace. This is heads and shoulders above what the Panther’s have. And the food here is amazing!”
We ate salmon steaks, mahi mahi, brisket, ribs, chikcken breasts with cheese and mushrooms, burgers, every material you could ask for to make a sandwich and more.
4) The support staff for the Falcons are some of the best in the business. Im talking about everyone from the guys arranging the equipment on the field for the next practice session to the I.T. guys running around making sure we were connected and able to get the thousands of pictures, hundreds of social media posts and more out to you guys around the clock.
Most people only think of the players on the field, but when it comes to winning it takes an entire organization and these guys have it together. Very impressive.
3) The coaching staff is fired up. We’ve been around some of these guys before, like Coach Smith, so we had something to judge his demeanor against. Trust us, this man is fired up.
As far as the new coaches, like Tice and Cox, it’s great to spend time with these guys up close and again, they are fired up and came here with a purpose, to win.
2) Arthur Blank is closely involved in this process. He is more closely involved than most of us might have thought. He is also more closely involved than he appeared to be last year.
Mr. Blank was out walking the public areas, talking to us, checking out the food services tents and their set-up, checking out the merchandise tent and who’s jersey was featured at the entrance on a manequin, etc. He was on the field for the entire practice daily, never far behind Coach Smith.
But he was never interferring with what was happening at practice, like you might imagine a Jerry Jones type would. He was there to simply help them get what they needed to make it happen. It was very reassuring for us to see this.
1) These players are ready to get on the field and hit someone. They are focused, angry, anxious, upset at how last year went, and they want to win.
They told us that every day, but more importantly, they showed us that on the field. They ran faster, tackled harder, helped each other like we’ve never seen, and they made sure that they were always one step ahead. We witnessed mentoring and player-coaching on a whole new level.
If their tenacity and grit translates to the field and if they use all of the knowledge that their coaches and fellow temmates bestowed upon them, this could be a great year.