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Falcons faithful flock to welcome team on first day of training camp
New coach creates fresh buzz in Flowery Branch
Brothers Josh and Patrick Stradtman of St. Louis watch the first day of the Atlanta Falcons training camp on Friday in Flowery Branch. Friday was the first time the brothers have been to a preseason practice. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Falcons training camp

When: Open to public 10 a.m.-noon today through Monday, Wednesday-Thursday

Where: Flowery Branch

Coming Sunday

Your guide to the Falcons training camp, with new faces, key players, schedule and more, in Sunday's print edition of The Times.

To Flowery Branch resident Blake Wharton, heading to the Atlanta Falcons’ training camp Friday was an educational process: How else was he going to help fiancee and football newbie Lauren Dugan learn the lingo?

The couple, who are due to be married in early October, joined more than a thousand eager Falcons fans at the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch. Camp will continue through Aug. 19, with many of the sessions taking place in the morning.

“She’s kind of new to it,” said Wharton, laughing. “But we’re coming out, and I’m getting her used to it for this fall.”

Wharton has attended camps for the past five or six years, and said he’s hoping to attend more games during the season.

Several fathers and sons also took the time off to learn how Atlanta should look in the 2015 season. Daniel Brownell, a Dalton native, took his son and two nephews along for a trip to training camp for the first time. Brownell, a lifelong Falcons fan, said he was looking forward to his boys seeing the “true athleticism” of NFL players in their prime.

His 11-year-old nephew, Jacob Cowart, said he just wants the Falcons to win.

“I think it’s better, because they have a good head coach,” said Cowart of first-year head coach Dan Quinn, who joined Atlanta in February. “He’s from Seattle, and our defense is going to be a lot better.”

Dave Cox took his son Aaron to Flowery Branch from Mableton, and even bought Aaron a souvenir football from the on-site shop so that they could get autographs from Falcons players.

Cox, a Miami Dolphins fan, said he was hoping to get his son excited for football, so they could talk about it once the season kicks up in September.

“He’s here to learn some of the players’ names, so we can watch college and pro ball,” said Cox. “I’m a Miami fan, but he was born and raised here, so I’m happy to let him pick his favorite team.”

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