FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Dan Quinn brought a hands-on coaching style to his first Atlanta Falcons' training camp on Friday.
It was most obvious when his hands were in blocking pads.
Whether sprinting from one side of the field to the other or standing in the middle of a play, deflecting pass-rushers with blocking pads on his hands, Quinn was extremely active on the opening day of training camp.
The high-energy style captured the attention of his players, including rookie outside linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., who said seeing his new coach so involved "says a lot."
"I've never seen a head coach actually getting involved with the players," Beasley said. "It's great to have him here as my coach in my corner."
Running back Devonta Freeman said players can't go half-speed, even in the heat, when Quinn, 44, is running full-speed.
"If we look at him and see he can do it, all the years he's been coaching, and he's twice my age, why not us?" Freeman said. "We can go out there and do it. It's mind over matter."
Quinn said coaches "feed off the players, too, and the energy they bring each day for one another. It's really contagious."
It's one thing to run from one portion of practice to another, encouraging hustle from players. Many coaches try to set that example.
It's different to see the head coach in the middle of live action, using his pads — similar to those used to train boxers — to deflect pass-rushers.
Quinn said the hand drills are designed to teach pass-rushers to quickly fend off blocks with their hands.
"I think as a rusher, that's one of the areas I can help the defensive line and the linebackers with," Quinn said. "When we do those hand drills, it's for hand speed and how linemen play."
Quinn said his active involvement should be no surprise for players who have seen his style in the offseason.
"I think they're kind of used to it by now and know I'm going to be really hands-on in the areas I can help and support the players the best," he said.
Quinn, the former Seattle defensive coordinator, has a major challenge in bringing improvement to an Atlanta defense which allowed the most total yards and yards passing in 2014. He said his focus is not long-term.
"This is not a rebuild in any way," he said. "Everything we're doing is about right now."
The practice lasted less than 2 hours.
"We're off to a great start," Quinn said. "We've got a long way to go but for the first day, to get to where we need to, I was pleased. ... I like the mindset."
Beasley, the first-round pick from Clemson, said "The heat kind of got to me" after he had cramping early in the practice. He was back on the field after stretching with a trainer.
"I think I did pretty good for my first day," Beasley said.
NOTES: Quinn said RT Ryan Schraeder sat out after having a "slight strain." ... LT Jake Matthews appeared to be fully recovered from his offseason foot surgery. Matthews' health is especially important with backup Lamar Holmes (foot) opening camp on the physically unable to perform list. ... CB Phillip Adams intercepted a pass from backup QB T.J. Yates for the defense's only forced turnover. ... WR Leonard Hankerson drew applause from fans with a long catch over the middle. On the next snap, QB Matt Ryan just missed WR Julio Jones on a deep sideline route. Later, Jones took a slight break when trainers put more tape on his left foot.
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