Cover 9@9: Julio Jones makes trip to the State Capitol

October 23, 2016 Atlanta: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones hauls in a long reception from Matt Ryan between Chargers defenders Adrian Phillips (left) and Dwight Lowery during the second quarter in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

1. Jones the business man. Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Juilo Jones, Jon Guyen and the development team from Ivy Creek Partners, are set to unveil the new name and logo for the highly anticipated $200 million mixed-use destination development adjacent to the Mall of Georgia at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the State Capitol Rotunda.

The project is set to feature retail shops, office space, residential units and condominiums as well as a family entertainment center and additional entertainment options.

Jones believes that the complex will fill a void in the entertainment field in the metro area. He told me during the season when the discussing this project that he was excited about having something to do closer to Flowery Branch.

He pointed out that a lot of times, the players have to travel nearly 30 miles into Atlanta to enjoy a night out. With a family entertainment center close by in Buford, they will no longer need to make that drive.

Rep. David Clark (R-Buford) will also be at the ceremony.

2. Help Change Lives.   There’s an early-bird special to register for the Warrick Dunn Charities’ seventh annual Celebrity Golf outing which is scheduled for June 12 at East Lake Golf Club.

Packages start at $500.

3. Quinn’s improvement plan. Dan Quinn and his staff are working on the point of attack tapes for all of the players this week and will review the scheme nuances.

“(We want each player to) get better at one or two things,”  Quinn said. “Not 10 things.”

The players are going to hold their own camp again in Florida before reporting for the strength and conditioning program on April 17.

If each player can makes strides, the entire team boat will be lifted up.

“Collectively, we’ll be that much better,” Quinn said. “The team that is going to sit in that meeting room for the first time is going to be significantly farther along than the one at this time last year.

“So, how do we get better? How do we climb to the next level? When your intent is about the growth and the learning and you trust in the process that you go through, you’re on the right course.”

4. Collins earned respect. Quinn was impressed with how cornerback Jalen Collins came back from his suspension and turned into a major contributor down the stretch last season.

“We were really pleased with his development,” Quinn said. “Guys going into year two, three and four: we have a lot of guys who can make a big jump.”

With Desmond Trufant and Collins, the Falcons can revisit last offseason’s plan to move Robert Alford to nickel back. They had to ditch that plan once Collins got suspended for four games for using performance enhancement drugs.

Quinn also said that Brian Poole, last season’s nickel back, will get some work at free safety.

“We’ll let them battle,” Quinn said. “As much nickel as we play, with his speed and length, we’ll find our spot.”

But what about Alford inside?

“That’s definitely stuff that we’re going to look at to see how best to feature the guys,” Quinn said.

5. McKay’s Deal. The Falcons re-signed team president and CEO Rich McKay to a five-year contract extension through June 2022.

McKay is entering his 14th year with the Falcons. He was hired in 2004 as president and general manager and became the team president and CEO in 2011.

He is chairman of the NFL’s Competition Committee, of which he has been a member for 23 years.

McKay also serves as president of AMB Sports & Entertainment (AMBSE), which manages the construction of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which opens later this year as the home of the Falcons and Atlanta United.

6. Roster signings.  The Falcons signed guard Hugh Thornton, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, and fullbacks Derrick Coleman and Soma Vainuku on Tuesday.

Thornton, 25, was a third-round pick (86th overall) out of Illinois in the 2013 draft. Thornton has started 32 games for the Colts. He missed last season with a foot injury.

The Falcons haven’t re-signed starting right guard Chris Chester, who’s contemplating retirement. Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer were next up on the depth chart behind Chester.

The Falcons didn’t re-sign Patrick DiMarco in free agency and didn’t have any fullbacks on the roster.

Coleman was signed by Minnesota following the 2012 draft. He played in 31 games with seven starts for Seattle and has 11 career receptions for 91 yards with two receiving touchdowns. He also has 10 career rushing attempts for 35 yards.

Vainuku signed with Houston out of USC after the 2016 draft.

7. Camp Brotherhood set for Florida.  For the second season in a row, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is organizing “players-only” camp that will be held in Florida before the players report for the strength and conditioning program on April 17.

Last season, during their march to the Super Bowl, several players contended the players-only camp helped to build a strong bond on the team and eventually led to what the team called the “Brotherhood” feeling.

Last season, about 27 players participated in the camp that was held at a Fort Lauderdale High school. This year the offensive linemen and kickers are set to join the skill position players.

“I know there will be a huge turnout amongst the whole team,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It kind of shows the strength of Brotherhood and that they have the willingness to get better. It’s going to be a big group that’s down there.”

Quinn was elated to hear the news about the gathering.

“It kind of lights me up in a big way that they are going to go down and spend the time together even before we start,” Quinn said. “That’s kind of like their spring training for pitchers and catchers.”

Ryan modeled the camp after the ones Peyton Manning used to hold when he was with the Indianapolis Colts. He had some help from former Colts and Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme, who was part of the group last season. Tamme has not be re-signed by the Falcons thus far in free agency.

8. Roddy White’s Scholarship Program. Uncle Roddy loves the kids.  The “Roddy White Keep the Faith Foundation” is awarding scholarships to 10 students to be used toward tuition at the post-secondary institution of their choice. The Roddy’s Rockstars Scholarship will be awarded to students demonstrating academic achievement and community involvement. “Our goal is to help enhance the experience of those who have a desire to continue their education or training in their chosen field,” White said. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

9. Cheerleader Tryouts. Under the guidance of longtime Falcons cheer coordinator Chato Hendrix and choreographer Jakene Ashford audition preparation classes for the 2017 Atlanta Falcons cheerleader squad have started.

The classes will provide candidates with an overview of the program along with a brief question/answer session and teach dance combinations similar to those performed during the games. The Falcons offer several class options. One participant from each class will automatically advance to finals.

Classes will be taught by the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders staff and current cheerleaders. The March 11 and April 1 classes will be held at Windy Hill Athletic Club, located at 135 Interstate North Parkway SE in Atlanta.

The auditions for the 2017 squad will be held on Sunday, April 2, with a $35 non-refundable application fee.

Click here further details.

Behind the Scenes Falcons Cheerleader Photoshoot
The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders gathered on Sunday morning for a photoshoot. Here’s a look at the behind the scenes action. (Courtesy of The Atlanta Falcons)

 

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