The Atlanta Falcons Football Team is going into this season with a huge microscope hovering over them by the fans, pundits, owner, and with HBO’s Hard Knocks….the rest of the National Football League. After this 1st week of training camp it is safe to say that the players know and are performing as if the stakes are HIGH, possibly the opposite of the feel of camp last season.

The “Dirty Birds” appear hungry and the staff is doing things that were unheard of in a typical Falcons camp under the current regime. Camp fights, “Oklahoma” drills, early concussions, and even a retirement are just some of the highlights that have taken place. I am pretty sure that some of these things have taken place in a Mike Smith Falcons Training Camp before but the “microscope” dictates that these actions are more meaningful.

I personally love the effort and intensity thus far in training camp. It is very obvious that a tone has been set by the coaching staff and the additions within it of Offensive Line Coach Mike Tice and Defensive Line Coach Bryan Cox seem to be paying dividends in covering the “get tougher” mandate set by Falcons Owner Arthur Blank.

Steven Jackson in happier times. (Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images Sport)

Steven Jackson in happier times. (Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images Sport)

However, it has not been all sunshine and rainbows at camp. Once again a hamstring injury to Running back Steven Jackson is putting a proverbial cloud over what was hoped to be a breakout season in the running game for the Falcons. It is a frustrating situation considering what people what thought his potential could be in this high powered Falcons Offense. Head Coach Mike Smith says Jackson should be back by week one, but after an extended time away with a similar injury last season, the jury is still out.

Free Agent Linebacker Pat Angerer was also injured with a concussion, was able to walk off the field, but is now under the NFL’s protocol for head injuries. There have been some eye openers such as Bernard Reedy, the 5-9, 175 yard speedster from Toledo has turned some heads along with surprisingly the offensive talents of Devin Hester. Picked up as a free agent from Chicago, Hester is showing that besides him instantly upgrading the return game for the Falcons, he may resolve some of the issues with the vacancy of the great Tony Gonzalez.

Overall, the Atlanta Falcons and an up and down 1st week of training camp but this more duplicates what a regular season will be thus making them prepared for anything that comes their way.

Jamie Walker is a Producer and Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. Follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or through email at