When we got down there [Thursday, April 28th] we went to
the Falcons’ facility, and everybody had already reported in. I think I was
one of the last ones to report in and get checked up. They do weight, height,
blood pressure, your sight, just the basic things you do when you get a
Then we had a rookie meeting, for all the people reporting
that were rookies or first year players, with Coach Mora. He talked about the
general things, like welcome to the organization and how the week was going to
go. After that, Alge Crumpler and Patrick Kearney spoke to us. They talked about
how the team chemistry was, how they expected us to work hard for them like they
are going to do, and basically just fall in line.
They did talk about the money some, and spending and
saving your money, investing your money, and eventually to start thinking about
what you’re going to do after football. They touched a lot of areas.
One of the questions was how you handle the outside life
of football. They were talking about how the women are going to be there. And
not just women. There are going to be other people there, family and people you
used to know, that are going to want things from you. Everybody is going to want
to take, take, take. But you’ve got to learn how to say no.
We stayed in this little resort type thing in Flowery
Branch. They were kind of like cabins. They had two bedrooms in them, with a
living room, two people to a room. It wasn’t that far, it was probably about
10 minutes from the facility. I roomed with Roddy White, from UAB, the first
round pick. He’s a receiver.
By the time we got back to the room Thursday night, I was
so tired, and we knew we had to get up at about five the next morning. There
wasn’t much stuff going on after that first night.
The next day we got up at 5:30 and just went to the
facility. The very first thing in the morning we had meetings. I went to the
special teams meeting first thing that day, and then we had an offensive
meeting, and then after that we had individual meetings in the morning. By this
time all the veterans were there, so it was quarterbacks meeting, running backs
meetings, things like that.
[Michael Vick, Ty Detmer, Matt Schaub and Randall] were
all together meeting. That was kind of exciting. After that we got into
practice. I don’t know Mike that well. He was gone by the time I got to
Virginia Tech, so I never really got a chance to get to know him. But I’ve met
him before. It was cool. It was just kind of like a teammate embracing a
teammate, a veteran embracing a rookie. We just had a general conversation, and
talked like we had played together before. I didn’t feel awkward in any way,
and I’m pretty sure he didn’t. Just right down to business, pretty much.
We get our first taste of plays before the first practice.
I’m the one behind, because all the rest of the quarterbacks know the plays,
know the terminology and things like that, so we put in around 18 to 24 pass
plays that first day, and about the same amount of runs. It was a lot. I have to
get used to the terminology and stuff like that, so I knew from the beginning
that it was going to be a rough time. But they said they are going to throw a
lot of information at you, which it is. So I tried to soak up as much as
possible that first day and try to get used to the terminology, but it sounded
like Spanish to me when I first started listening to it.
I didn’t throw any interceptions while I was down there,
I probably didn’t have enough reps to throw an interception. I had a couple of
reps in 7-on-7 while down there, and I almost completed every ball. I only had
about four reps, and I think I completed all but one.
I feel good about my performance for the knowledge that I
had. For the opportunity that I was given, I feel like I did a great job. The
coaches gave good feedback. They knew that they couldn’t expect but so much
from me. I think my physical tools were a plus, and they told me that I did a
good job of executing for the short amount of time that I was given.
Saturday and Sunday were pretty much the same thing. It
was tiring, it wore you out. From the time we left at 5:30 in the morning, we
didn’t come back to the cabin until like 10 that night all three days, so it
was a struggle. It was a struggle.
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As the week went on, some of the plays and formations
started to become more familiar to me. It was the simplest things, like when a
formation is called, realizing where everybody is going to line up. Getting some
of the concepts down for the passing game, such as certain routes go together,
realizing where everyone is going to be at, footwork for the type of drop you
take for certain passes. So it was small things, it was smaller things, but
bigger things for me because I feel like they are the basic things that you need
to know in order to evolve and get better in the system.
You don’t get to take the playbook home, so I don’t have
it to study with while I’m not down there. My coach is supposed to send me some
plays to go over and I’ll be talking to him, but basically learn as much as I
can and as much as possible, get familiar with the plays and terminology and
calling the plays. That’s another thing. I couldn’t even call a play. I
mean, you are telling everybody what to do, and the terminology was just so
different from what I was used to that even calling a play was difficult. But
reading defenses is pretty basic for a quarterback like me. You see a lot in
college, and it doesn’t get too much different as you get to the NFL.
With reading a defense, usually the process goes from the
safeties down. Depending on what the pass play is depends on what you are
looking for. In certain pass plays there are going to be tips that tip you off
to certain defenses. Such as, if you are running an all vertical with two
receivers, then you are going to check out the safeties. If you have two high
safeties, then your read is usually going to be from your tight end going down
the middle of the field, to your checkdown to your back.
The speed and size of players in the NFL is pretty much
the same as college. Sometimes people get a misunderstanding, but all these
players aren’t super duper players. There are different things that got them
into the league, and the physical thing isn’t always it.
I’ll be heading back down on the 15th of May. On the
16th, the next camp starts. Everybody will be back, and this camp will be a lot
longer than the first one. I believe we’ll be there from May 16th to around
June 15th. So we’ve got a lot more time to put things in. Once again, I’m
going to have to learn things and pick up things a little but quicker.
I had a chance to talk to DeAngelo, but not for long. Like
I said, our time restraints were crazy. It’ll probably be a lot better the
next time we go back to camp, because we will have some days off. Time
restraints this time were pretty strict. The only time you really got a chance
to talk to people was during lunch, which wasn’t long because you had to get
to meetings right after that. But I did get to talk to DeAngelo a little bit,
but it was just mostly general conversation. I didn’t really get to talk to
all the players like that, but I plan on getting in depth with a lot of them.