FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- A daily review of the hot topics from Atlanta Falcons training camp:
The Falcons continued their training camp theme of physical play but this time against an opponent rather than each other as the Tennessee Titans came to town. The teams barked at each from the start of practice and a scuffle went down just 20 minutes into the session. Falcons center Joe Hawley even got ejected by the officiating crew after a run-in with Titans safety Michael Griffin. There's nothing wrong with the Falcons showing some fight, but they can't cost themselves with penalties once the regular season begins. They better get it all out of their system now.
Speaking of Hawley, the fact that he was tossed from practice coupled with an injury that sent backup guard/tackle Gabe Carimi to the locker room only emphasized the need for the Falcons to establish depth along the offensive line. Peter Konz stepped in for Hawley and immediately got blasted, so Konz has to be better if he intends to be a reliable backup center. Carimi was having a good camp but has been plagued by knee issues in the past. Right now, the two best backup options seem to be guard Harland Gunn and tackle Ryan Schraeder. Gunn has been extremely strong up front and held his own against some of the Titans' defensive linemen. But to put it simply, the Falcons better hope their starting five of Jake Matthews, Jon Asamoah, Justin Blalock, Sam Baker, and Hawley stays intact for the bulk of the season.
Quarterback Matt Ryan's deep connection with Harry Douglas down the left sideline drew a rousing reaction from the fans. Ryan continued to establish a rhythm with his primary receivers -- Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Douglas -- in preparation for Friday night's exhibition against the Miami Dolphins. It helps that Ryan is getting a noticeably cleaner pocket, even against the Titans. "I thought today was really good,'' Ryan said. The real key is Ryan having a rhythm with Jones since Jones hasn't played in live action since last October following foot surgery. "... I thought Julio looked really good. Coach [Mike] Smith has him on a number count of his reps. But when he was out there, I thought he ran crisp and looked explosive and made some catches for us. I think he's coming along really nicely. No doubt, he'll be ready to go when we get to the season opener.''
Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi rushed out of a four-point stance late in practice and said it was the first time he's tried that, just for a different look. ... Undrafted rookie receiver Bernard Reedy dropped a punt early in practice but made a nice deep ball catch later. ... Cornerback Desmond Trufant got shaken up deflecting a pass in drills but walked it off. ... Defensive tackle Travian Robertson continued to excel in pass rush drills. ... Rookie defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman participated in the entire practice after bruising his right hand Sunday during a fight with Hawley.
The Falcons have Tuesday off and return to practice Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET.