|John Bazemore / Associated Press|
|Michael Turner showed up to minicamp in shape and is working out five days a week to prepare for the 2010 season.|
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- I swung through the morning session of the Falcons' first full squad minicamp Friday morning and here are some thoughts and observations -- and I will preface all of this by saying they didn't have pads on. I'm not a believer in much until these guys actually start playing football. There have been thousands of training camp All Pros who wither to the waiver wire once they actually have to run through a tackle or block somebody.
Still, there are some things to garner from this workout and here is my take:
» Free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson already is an upgrade over any cornerback Atlanta has had in years. It was easy to see that he is a physical player and is very aggressive. Robinson made several plays on the ball and he handled himself well against the Falcons' top two wide receivers, Pro Bowler Roddy White and Michael Jenkins. Robinson told me after the workout that having to practice against Andre Johnson in Houston and having to play against Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne for years has him more than ready to jump right in and take care of business.
» All you fantasy football players might want to get Michael Turner on your team. The running back said he is approaching this season with a serious purpose and he's doing more than talking. Turner already is at his season-ending weight of around 240-245 and he is carrying it in much leaner fashion. Turner got out of the gate very slowly last year because he was holding a few too many lbs, which didn't allow him to pull away from too many LBs. He pulled away from a slew of the Falcons' athletic linebackers Friday.
Turner told me that he looked at some pictures of himself last season and saw a pudgy guy. Not this time around. Turner said he typically let himself get a little heavy during the offseason and would work it off as training camp neared. He didn't let things get away from him this offseason. I was told by a Falcons' official that he is one of the few players that work out five times a week instead of four.
Turner also said he practiced exceptionally hard to prove to himself that the high ankle sprain that he suffered last season has fully healed. Turner has worked on conditioning drills with other injured players during OTAs and was just medically cleared to go all out before minicamp.
» First-round draft pick Sean Weatherspoon was working at the strong side outside linebacker spot with the second unit. He was playing behind last season's starter, Stephen Nicholas. When the Falcons' selected Weatherspoon, he was pegged as a weak-side linebacker, where Mike Peterson is the starter. That doesn't look to be the case, although Atlanta cross-trains players at most positions.
Peterson, who was a huge addition to Atlanta's defense when he was acquired last season, doesn't appear to be in danger of losing his job but he doesn't seem to be taking any chances. He was the most active player on the field during the morning practice. He also spent a lot of his time on the sideline working with Weatherspoon. Nicholas, a one-year starter, might be the most vulnerable to Weatherspoon.
» Quarterback Matt Ryan said he was a little rusty but he looked pretty in sync to the naked eye. Entering his third season, Ryan is so fully in command of the offense that it's hard to tell when he's made a mistake. He told me the continuity of players on offense is why he is so comfortable. The only real change he's had since being the No. 3 overall pick in 2007 was the addition of TE Tony Gonzalez last summer.