For the ninth straight year, the Atlanta Falcons will hold their annual Russell Athletic training camp at their Flowery Branch headquarters. From July 25 – August 11, select team practices will be open to the public and on two dates, combined ones will be held with the Cincinnati Bengals (Aug. 5 – 6).

Senior Vice President of Russell Athletic Gary Barfield said of this year’s camp via the Falcons website, “Training camp is a great time of year as it signals the return of football, and we look forward to a successful 2013 Russell Athletic Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.”

Training Camp Schedule

Thursday July 25 – 26: 3:30 – 5:50 p.m.
Saturday July 27 – 28: 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. This is the Atlanta Falcons Youth Weekend and children ages 17 and under can meet the team’s cheerleaders and enter numerous contests for prizes.
Monday July 29 – August 1: 3:30 – 6:05 p.m.
Friday, August 2: 6:45 – 9:10 p.m. The Kia Motors “Friday Night Lights” program will be held at Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park Stadium in Gainesville, Georgia.
Sunday August 4: 3:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Monday, August 5: 3-5:30 p.m. Practice with the Bengals
Tuesday, August 6: 3-5:20 p.m. Practice with the Bengals

Saturday, August 10 – August 11: 3:30-6:05 p.m.

Preseason Games

August 8 – Cincinnati Benals 8 p.m. EDT
August 15 – At Baltimore Ravens 7:30 p.m. EDT
August 24 – At Tennessee Titans 8:00 p.m. EDT
August 29 – Jacksonville Jaguars 7:30 p.m. EDT

Training Camp Storylines

After last season’s great year including a so close but yet so far almost Super Bowl visit, expectations are high for the Falcons in 2013. Many view them as a possible Super Bowl contender. Again. The team ramped up its defense with a few offseason moves and its offense once again looks stellar.

But there are a few position competitions to keep an eye on during training camp.

The Michael Turner era is over and the team will usher in veteran Steven Jackson as its running back. In the offseason, the former St. Louis Ram signed a three-year, $12 million contract ($4 million guaranteed money and a $3.5 million signing bonus). He comes with expectations and last season with less talented teammates surrounding him, he had 70 percent of his team’s carries, amassing 1,074 yards and four touchdowns.

Fellow running back Jacquizz Rodgers will split carries with Jackson but how much production he’ll see remains to be seen. He has been showing Jackson the ropes while also trying to learn from him. One question you can’t help but ask, is at age 30, can Jackson stay healthy?

There’s also a few changes on the offensive line that needs to be settled with shuffling set to occur. With the release of right tackle Tyson Clabo, either sophomore Lamar Holmes or Mike Johnson will transition in as the starter. Should Holmes get the nod, Garrett Reynolds could move to right guard.

Second-year Peter Konz could then move from right guard to center in place of retired Todd McClure.

Then we have the defensive battles. The nickel cornerback role will include a duel between rookie Robert Alford and veteran Robert McClain, who had a good 2012. Alford showed his athleticism at OTAs and minicamp but don’t look for McClain to give up his starting spot easily.

Look for the other veteran corner, Dominique Franks, to also be challenged by a rookie. This time it will be Desmond Trufant.

There’s also a linebacker vacancy. Akeem Dent, Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas should be set but there’s a host of guys looking for an opportunity. This includes Brian Banks, who is on his first NFL team after spending time in jail.

Add in Patrick Schiller, who was a 2012 undrafted free agent but stayed with the Falcons for the season and is already familiar with the team’s defense. New 2013 UDFAs include Jopla Bartu, Nick Clancy and Paul Worrilow.

As for pass rush help, the team signed former New York Giant defensive end veteran Osi Umenyiora this offseason. He’ll look for sophomore Jonathan Massaquoi to step up and help him while proving he was a good choice to replace John Abraham.