FLOWERY BRANCH, GA. -- A daily review of the hot topics from Atlanta Falcons' training camp:
The Matt Ryan-to-Julio Jones connection wasn't working at first, but the two eventually connected on a long ball down the left sideline where Jones caught the ball in stride over the shoulder. It drew the biggest reaction from the fans, who have anxiously awaited for Jones -- the star receiver -- to do his thing coming off foot surgery. He gained 10 pounds of muscle coming into training camp but still appears to have the same blazing speed. "I still feel like I can beat one-on-one matchups," Jones said. Cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford did a good job keeping up with Jones throughout practice.
The Falcons again practiced in pads, which meant for some hard hits. Safety William Moore delivered a few punishing blows, as expected, while rookie linebackers Prince Shembo and Marquis Spruill put some nice pops on a couple running backs. "Guys had the day off yesterday, so we wanted to have some physical play out there," coach Mike Smith said. "There was goal line and short yardage in our install, so that kind of worked out really good for us to go out and bang. I thought it was competitive. One session was won by the offense. One session was won by the defense. And that's what you really want at this point in time."
Smith said linebacker Pat Angerer, who complained of headaches after Tuesday's practice, is going through the concussion protocol. It remains unclear when Angerer will be back in action. The Falcons continue to look at veteran linebackers. Also, rookie safety Dez Southward suffered a knee injury and will be sidelined for a week. Sean Baker ran with the second team defense at safety alongside Kemal Ishmael with Southward out.
Smith said he had a conversation with defensive tackle Peria Jerry after lunch, and Jerry said he was going to retire. Smith did not share details of the conversation but wished Jerry well. ... Smith said that "Friday Night Lights" will include a halftime show, then the Falcons will "go out there and play real football." So expect some hard hitting under the lights. ... Defensive end Tyson Jackson showed some veteran leadership by pulling rookie Ra'Shede Hageman aside to help tutor him on some pass rush technique. ... Outside linbacker Jonathan Massaquoi picked off a tipped pass to end practice. ... 6-foot linebacker Paul Worrilow played some nice defense in the end zone on 6-foot-8 tight end Levine Toilolo to knock the ball away.
Next up: KIA Motors "Friday Night Lights" at Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georiga, today from 6:45 p.m. ET to 9:10.