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 »This Week in History
Atlanta Falcons

  Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel | Player Wire

  Falcons focus on acclimating, assessing newcomers

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn focused on developing the youth on the roster and handed most of the offseason reps to younger players and new veterans to the team.

"Not just the rookies, but guys who maybe don't have a lot of experience going into year two or three," Quinn said. "We wanted to get to know them more. We wanted to get to know some of the free agents we added in the offseason more. That's the Jack Crawfords and Dontari (Poes). We were trying to check those boxes."

At the conclusion of minicamp, Quinn addressed the team and then had a longer session with the rookies before releasing them.

"We reminded our guys that rule No. 1 for us is protecting the team and having a conscience for that all the way," Quinn said. "We have a good break here and I want everybody lined up, ready to go and recharged in (little over) a month's time. We have a hell of a division that we are going to go fight for."

The team is slated to reconvene in late July.

Running back Devonta Freeman is looking forward to signing a contract extension, preferably before training camp.

"It's that feeling when you know something special is coming and you're about to be blessed," Freeman said after minicamp concluded. "It's just an exciting moment in time for me right now."

Freeman is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract and make $1.8 million in 2017. His camp wants him to be paid like an "elite" running back. His representatives made it known during Super Bowl week and again during free agency.

The Falcons have made it a point, during general manager Thomas Dimitroff's regime, to extend players in the final year of their contracts in October or November, which is what cornerback Robert Alford and right tackle Ryan Schraeder did last season. So, Freeman would normally be up this October or November.

Freeman and Dimitroff don't see any murky contract negotiation clouds coming.

"I'm not rushing it and I'm not impatient," Freeman said. "I'm just trying to make sure that my business is right as far as being in the best shape of my life. Being healthy, stronger, faster and being better at the same time."

Freeman, who was a fourth-round pick in 2014 out of Florida State, has put together back-to-back Pro-Bowl seasons. He had 227 carries for 1,079 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He also caught 54 passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns.

In his breakout 2015 season, Freeman rushed 265 times for 1,056 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 73 passes for 568 yards and three touchdowns.

"I'm just a firm believer that everything is going to get handled at the right time," Freeman said. "Right now, it's not like I'm in a bad situation. I'm not hurting for money. This is the most I've had in my life.

"I have a great management team to help me manage my money. Help me save and do the right things and stuff. We're good."

The Falcons are $6,009,096 million under the salary cap, according to NFLPA public salary-cap documents.

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