Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith said General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and his staff are working to get any disagreements resolved and have wide receiver Roddy White in training camp for future practices.
The Pro Bowl wide receiver officially started a holdout Friday night when he did not report to camp.
“It’s not a distraction,” Smith said after the team’s opening practice. “I’m not angry. How can you be angry when it’s the first day of training camp and the first day of the 2009 season? This is my favorite day of the year. I’m not angry at all and I don’t believe it will be a distraction. You can’t concern yourself with guys who aren’t here. All we can do is coach the guys who are here. Our job as a coaching staff is to prepare our team for 2009.”http://video.atlantafalcons.com/video/134003/134003_2009-08-01-111248.flv
White set a Falcons single-season receiving record with 1,358 yards in 2008. He recorded seven touchdowns and seven 100-yard receiving games (also franchise records).
According to the collective bargaining agreement, the Falcons are allowed to fine White for unexcused absences during training camp.
Smith said those “mechanisms” are in place and he’s concerned with coaching players in camp. That included 78 faces on Saturday morning (minus White and cornerback Glenn Sharpe, who was excused for personal reasons).
“As far as our practice today, I thought the guys came out with a lot of energy and worked extremely hard,” Smith said. “It was a good start. It was also nice to have all eight of your draft picks out here from the very beginning.”
The Falcons have a practice scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning the team will wear shoulder pads for the first time.
“We’re not going to do a whole lot different,” the coach said when asked about changes from ‘08 to ‘09. “We’ve evaluated everything we’ve done as a coaching staff and made some subtle changes in how we present things but, as far as the sequencing of practice, our main goal is to get to the opener as healthy as possible… We’re going to work hard but we’re also going to work very smart.”