<
>

Falcons receivers ready to celebrate with relaxed rules in place

The NFL relaxed the rules regarding touchdown celebrations this offseason, and Taylor Gabriel can't wait to take advantage.

Gabriel, the Atlanta Falcons' speedy wide receiver, likes to dance. You'll see him bust a move or two while going through drills at practice. But Gabriel would much rather it be a regular occurrence in games, with his teammates joining in.

Group touchdown celebrations are allowed again, as the Detroit Lions' receivers showed during Saturday night's exhibition.

"Now we get to show our creativity and have fun with our teammates," said Gabriel, who tied Julio Jones for the team lead with six touchdown receptions last season. "I'm glad that they loosened the rules up a little bit. So, I'm excited for this year."

Of course, the Falcons are more focused on recovering from last season's Super Bowl disappointment and making another title run. At the same time, they continue to have fun as a team, which is why Gabriel hinted at celebrations in the works to break in the new, $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons play their first game in the new venue with next Saturday's exhibition against the Arizona Cardinals, and the first regular-season game there is a Week 2 matchup against Green Bay on Sunday night (Sept. 17).

"We've got a few things that we're conjuring up in our pot, man," Gabriel said. "So we're excited to get that first touchdown out of the way at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium."

Gabriel has been slowed by a lower-leg injury but should be fully ready to play -- and celebrate -- during the regular season. His "Turbo Taylor" dance caught on with fans last year.

"It's something that me and my homeboys came up with," Gabriel said. "Just having fun and enjoying myself. I think I scored in the San Francisco game, and that's when I did it. I was feeling it at the time. But this year, I'm going to try and incorporate more touchdown end-zone dances, trying to have fun with it."

Gabriel has been working on some moves with fellow wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, as captured by AtlantaFalcons.com

"Sanu is good," Gabriel said. "He really doesn't have a certain touchdown dance. He just pulls things from what's kind of popular right now. He does his thing."

Said Sanu of any upcoming touchdown dances, "You've just got to stay tuned. We're going to have lots of fun. You've just got to make sure you stay tuned."

Running back Devonta Freeman, who led the Falcons with 13 touchdowns a year ago, made sure to keep his teammates involved by letting his linemen spike the football last season. Freeman scored the first touchdown this preseason in an exhibition at Miami and just clutched the ball with his left hand, stopping for a moment for a couple of extended hand slaps with Sanu and tight end Levine Toilolo.

What happened to the spike?

"It's preseason," Gabriel said of Freeman's subtle celebration against the Miami Dolphins.

"I don't really like Devonta's slamming the ball. That's kind of out of style. You know, he can't dance."

So who has the best celebrations in the NFL? Gabriel didn't quite give the nod to Antonio Brown, the guy who will be on the other sideline Sunday afternoon when the Falcons face the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Odell has some good touchdown dances," Gabriel said of New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. "He's just out there having fun with it. It's just having fun, being relaxed, and playing the game that you love."