Head Coach Mike Smith liked the tempo of Friday’s mini camp practice which — like much of 2008 — progressed with a relaxed focus.
There was one skirmish between the offensive and defensive line, but even that was chalked up to enthusiasm.
“They’ve earned the right to be here and be a professional football player now they need to earn the right to be on a 53-man roster,” Smith said when asked about his team’s intensity and the rumble.
That was a highlight on an otherwise business-as-usual opening practice for the Falcons.
“I think it was a very spirited practice,” Smith said. “It was nice to be back out on the field. It was really the first time in four months that we’ve had a chance to get out and really play some football. I thought the guys really did a nice job.”
“We felt they weren’t 100 percent ready to go we made the decision to limit those guys in practice today,” the coach said.
Abraham nursed several injuries through his 16.5-sack season in 2008. Smith would not go into detail about his current ailments other than to say he and other Falcons were taking it slow after the “rigors” or the NFL season.
The coach said more veterans will be held out in coming practices to keep players fresh and give the staff a chance to evaluate younger players.
Abraham was replaced in the starting lineup by second-year player Kroy Biermann.
Hutchins, a free agent addition prior to 2008, missed all of last season after a foot injury on the first day of training camp.
Smith said he will return as soon as he’s cleared by the training staff.