Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons: Episode 3 Recap

Jake Matthews was told immediately he'd be the left tackle following Sam Bakers injury. (John Bazemore)

Jake Matthews was told immediately he’d be the left tackle following Sam Baker’s season-ending injury. (John Bazemore)

Another episode of Hard Knocks means we’re that much closer to the regular season.

The first few minutes of the third episode of Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons was a first in the show’s history as we’re taken inside the operating room to witness rookie linebacker Marquis Spruill’s ACL surgery.

It’s the side of football that most fans don’t think about, and it was certainly a shock to me. Thankfully, I wasn’t eating anything at the time because I have a feeling it would have been coming right back up.

The episode then goes to examine two key Falcons coming back from injuries: linebacker Kroy Biermann, who is coming back from a torn Achilles and wide receiver Julio Jones, who broke the screw in his surgically-repaired foot. Biermann hasn’t looked too great during preseason, and it’s revealed that he still feels a bit tentative.

Jones says he’s there physically. The only way to know for sure, however, is to test the foot in game action.

Undrafted wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn received a decent amount of air time. The former Boise State product is extremely raw but certainly has physically what it takes to be an NFL receiver. He has to work on the game’s nuances and be a bit more consistent, however. He’s already earned himself a nickname, too: “Amsterdam”. I think his shot at making the 53-man roster is slim, but he should certainly make the team’s practice squad.

Players battled the harsh Georgia heat, and rookie running back learned pretty quickly he should probably make sure he eats breakfast each morning, particularly before practice. He’s reprimanded by the trainer and told, “You’re in the NFL, now.”

The three say it a lot, but Atlanta’s top three receivers – Harry Douglas, Jones, and Roddy White – are really close, and they act like brothers. We see them at a bowling alley having a good time. Douglas has a pretty unorthodox bowling style: he launches the ball pretty high in the air. However, the method seems to work as we see him score a few strikes.

Jones ended up edging Douglas by a single point, and White came in a distant third.

Backup quarterback T.J. Yates is a popular guy in Houston. And he should be since he gave the Texans franchise its first playoff win. As the Falcons got off the bus to practice in Houston, Yates was met with plenty of cheers and chants. However, his performance against his former team left a lot to be desired.

The last part of the episode shows highlights, er, lowlights from last week’s preseason game in which the Falcons were drubbed by the Texans 32-7.

When left tackle Sam Baker went down – tearing his patella tendon – offensive line coach Mike Tice immediately told Matthews: “When you wake up tomorrow, you’ll be our left tackle.” It’s stuff like this that makes the show. You truly see what’s going on behind the scenes and don’t have to sift through what’s told to the media.

Unfortunately, at least for Falcons fans, the last twenty or so minutes of the episode were pretty depressing. Losing the game that badly and a starter for the season combined with the semi-gloomy music that played as the players looked disheartened leaving Houston put a bit of a damper on the show. But in a good way, if that makes sense.

What I found surprising was the fact there was virtually no yelling from head coach Mike Smith following the loss. He was pretty even-keeled as he told the players they knew they did a lot of things wrong. In fact, the most yelling – if you can call it that, really – came from Matt Ryan, who demanded they all do better to prevent another game like that from happening.

Speaking of Ryan, we saw a different side of him. He told a dirty joke and he also said the f-word a few times. It seemed a bit out of character for the quarterback, but it also shows he’s seemingly a lot more vocal than he’s been in the past. It looks like he’s ready to will this Falcons team to a winning season – a far cry from what occurred last year.

Bring on episode four!

Catch my recaps of the first and second episodes.

Follow me on Twitter: @projectjax.

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