Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Alford makes mark on Day 1 of minicamp
By Vaughn McClure
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The first day of mandatory minicamp was a solid showing by the Atlanta Falcons' secondary, specifically Robert Alford.
The second-year cornerback was all over the field making plays on the ball. He showed great recovery speed on a few deep balls and nearly had at least one interception.
To keep things in perspective, Alford wasn't going up against Julio Jones or Roddy White. Regardless, he showed flashes of the great future he has alongside fellow starting cornerback Desmond Trufant.
Head coach Mike Smith certainly was impressed with Alford.
"I thought Robert Alford made some phenomenal plays,'' Smith said. "You got an opportunity to see his speed and quickness; his ability to recover. There were guys that were open and when the ball was in the air, he seemed to run faster than the other guy.''
Alford wasn't the only one to stand out with speed. Undrafted rookie receiver Bernard Reedy from Toledo showed a burst while going to get some deep balls. The coaches had to take notice.
Running back Josh Vaughan looked smooth catching a perfect long ball from Matt Ryan down the right sideline. Kroy Biermann showed some explosion off the line, while new free safety Dwight Lowery continued to impress with his playmaking and communication skills.
With Day 1 in the books, here are some players to watch during Day 2 of minicamp on Wednesday:
*Dominique Davis, QB: Smith essentially challenged Davis when he said the backup quarterback competition is wide open and second-year player Sean Renfree "absolutely'' has a chance to win the job. Davis hasn't exactly stood out at this point, but he has plenty of ability.
*Tyler Starr, OLB: Starr created a buzz at rookie minicamp with his relentless pass rush, but that was before he had to face much better offensive linemen. He got pushed around a little bit by backup right tackle Ryan Schraeder on Tuesday. Let's see how he responds.
*Drew Davis, WR: Most figured Roddy White would be available for minicamp, considering he returned for the end of organized team activities. But since the coaches have decided to hold White out, it means more opportunities for players such as Davis. The more reps for Davis, the more trust Ryan will have in him.
*Stansly Maponga, OLB: Maponga spent extra time following Tuesday's practice working on his pass-rush moves with veteran Osi Umenyiora. While there are high expectations for Jonathan Massaquoi as a pass-rusher, Maponga has kind of flown under the radar. But the coaches have faith in Maponga.
*Jacquizz Rodgers, RB: Based on the quickness he showed out of the slot during 7-on-7 drills, Rodgers still has the ability to be an impact player. It's just a matter of him getting the opportunities. He could end up as the No. 3 running back if rookie Devonta Freeman emerges, as expected. Training camp will truly show where things stands, but Rodgers would be best to start impressing now.