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Falcons conduct team scrimmage at Brookwood
Atlanta Falcons’ Brent Grimes celebrates his interception he returned to the endzone with Erik Coleman (26) during a team scrimmage at Brookwood High on Friday. - photo by Curtis Compton

SNELLVILLE, Ga. Quarterback Matt Ryan doesn’t know how the Atlanta Falcons will be without Roddy White, so he used a scrimmage Friday night to work with other receivers.

"We’re getting timing down with the guys that are here," Ryan said. "Those guys are doing a job, and we’re hopeful Roddy will get his stuff done in the near future."

With his Pro Bowl wideout having skipped the first full week of training camp in a contract dispute, Ryan worked primarily with No. 2 wideout Michael Jenkins, new tight end Tony Gonzalez, No. 3 receiver Brian Finneran and running back Michael Turner.

Ryan, the 2008 NFL offensive rookie of the year, lost another favorite target earlier this week when Harry Douglas had a season-ending knee injury. Atlanta signed Marty Booker, who won’t arrive until Sunday, and Robert Ferguson, who took a few snaps in the scrimmage.

"I thought it was good for us to get out here tonight and go against some live defensive action," Ryan said. "It helps you get used to the timing against a pass rush and things like that. Tony, Jenks and Finn made some good catches. I thought our running game and passing game were OK."

Regardless of the wide receiver situation, the Falcons will rely heavily on Turner who finished second in the NFL with 1,699 yards rushing last season.

A crowd of approximately 12,000 watched at suburban Brookwood High School as the Falcons tackled for the first time in 11 practices of camp. All players except quarterbacks were subject to hits, and coach Mike Smith said afterward that no new injuries were reported.

Smith oversaw a workout staged for game-like scenarios that changed the scores and down and distance to put the offense, defense and special teams in different situations.

Second-year cornerback Brent Grimes, competing with Von Hutchins and rookie Chris Owens for a starting job on the left side, caused Jenkins to fumble after a 20-yard catch over the middle from Ryan.

Grimes followed a few series later by stripping tight end Justin Peele of a catch on the left sideline and running downfield untouched.

"Any chance I get to make a positive impression on film, I’ve got to do what I can to impress the coaches," Grimes said. "I was fortunate because the schemes put me in position to make plays."

Turner’s primary backup, Jerious Norwood, was stuffed in the backfied on a blitz up the middle from linebacker Robert James. Norwood followed a few snaps later by outrunning Owens, a second-round draft pick, on a pitch from Ryan that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown.

"I saw a lot of positives and negatives, but we knew there would be a lot of mistakes," Smith said.

The Falcons will have a mock game Saturday morning in their second season under Smith.

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