Linebacker Curtis Lofton, who injured his hamstring at the end of the first day of Russell Falcons Training Camp, returned to the field Monday — a sign the Falcons are getting healthier as the preseason opener approaches.
Lofton, a second-year player from Oklahoma, started 15 of 16 games at middle linebacker last season, has worked with the first-team with Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson.
Defensive tackle Trey Lewis, who missed 2008 with a torn ACL, also returned to practice Monday after missing a few days with a minor injury.
“Curtis was back today. Trey Lewis was back today,” Head Coach Mike Smith said when he met with the media.
“The only player that was held out of practice today — and that was precautionary from the scrimmage there on Friday night — was Jason Snelling.”
Snelling was on the receiving end of a big hit by safety Jamaal Fudge during the team’s Friday Night Lights scrimmage at Brookwood High School. Smith said the third-year running back would be ready for the afternoon practice.
Lofton was second to New England’s Jerod Mayo in tackles by a rookie last season (108). He said he’s “trying to get back in football shape” after aggravating his left hamstring and that he’s careful not to overexert himself.
But he’s not underestimating the value of getting on the field with new linebackers Peterson and Nicholas and increasing his breadth of knowledge and leadership.
“It’s important because in camp is when you start bonding and forming a relationship,” Lofton said.
“We have a combination of leaders. There’s not just one, sole leader. Everyone leads by different measures. I’m just trying to lead and do my thing.”
MORE NOTES FROM CAMP…
… New receiver Marty Booker likes what he sees from quarterback Matt Ryan (few can argue), particularly when considering the struggles he’s had with quarterbacks over his 11-year career. “It’s good to finally play with a pretty good quarterback,” he said. “If you look at my career and my stats, 11 years I’ve been in the NFL I think I’ve had like 20 different starting quarterbacks. I can adjust on that level, but to come in and have a No. 1 guy that’s as impressive as he is, it’s always a plus.”
… Booker worked under offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey in Miami, but said he’s got some work to do in learning the Falcons system. “It’s pretty similar,” he said. “The concept is similar. It’s a matter of tweaks here I have to learn but I’m trying to get in there early and learn as much as I can so I can be ready.”
… Smith wants to keep an eye on his team’s attention span leading up to the first preseason game, especially when training camp enters its most brutal stretch. “These next few days are kind of the dog days,” the second-year coach said. “As we get to the end of the week the game will be more prevalent. These next few days it’s going to be tough for all of us to focus but we have to do it.”
… The team is happy to have Roddy White back on the practice field after the Pro Bowler signed a contract extension and ended his holdout. But injuries to players who miss the start of camp aren’t uncommon. Smith said the team will keep an eye on it’s top receiver.
“We’re going to monitor his reps but it will be really on day two and three you have to take a good look at it,” he said. “Roddy came in yesterday after he signed his contract and the first thing I said to him was: ‘You ready to take your running test?’”