FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) There are almost too many milestone moments for Dan Quinn to squeeze into one week.
Quinn directed the opening day of his first mini-camp as the Atlanta Falcons’ coach on Tuesday. The mini-camp ends with another practice on Wednesday. His first NFL draft with the Falcons begins Thursday and continues through Saturday.
It’s a dream itinerary for a first-year coach.
”I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Quinn said. ”I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been looking forward to this week for a long time. I knew we had the camp coming and then the draft. It’s been an absolute blast, it really has. Especially the highlight of today.”
The minicamp is voluntary. The team’s top veterans, including quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and cornerback Desmond Trufant, were on the field.
Ryan said the strong turnout is a good sign.
”I think it speaks to the kind of guys we have in our locker room, guys who have been here right from the start, in meetings, paying attention, trying to do things the right way,” Ryan said. ”I think that’s going to bode well for us moving forward.”
Quinn said the turnout was no surprise.
”I kind of expected that, from being part of the organization for this long and seeing how hungry guys are to compete and battle,” he said.
”It was really fun to be out here and see how hungry some of these guys are in wanting to compete and wanting to go for it. It was an awesome day.”
Quinn, the former Seahawks defensive coordinator, said his first objective was to give players ”a sense of the speed and attitude” he’ll demand.
The message is getting through.
”You definitely have to be in shape, more so than we were last year,” Jones said. ”It’s going to be a lot demanded out of us.”
Quinn replaced Mike Smith, who was fired following back-to-back losing records.
Owner Arthur Blank empowered the new coach with the final say on roster spots. Quinn will be working closely with Thomas Dimitroff in the draft room this week.
NOTES: There were 11 players with NFL experience participating in the practice on tryouts. The group included running backs Carlton Mitchell, Evan Royster and Horace Miller. Quinn said he was impressed with defensive end Adam Carriker, a 2007 first-round pick of the Rams who made his last NFL appearance with Washington in 2012.
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