FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Atlanta Falcons training camp:
The big news of the day was Julio Jones returning to practice for the first time since suffering a right foot fracture in Week 5 of last season. Coach Mike Smith said Jones will be limited during camp with one day on, one day off. Jones showed no ill effects while planting and cutting. His reps were limited during full-team drills and one-on-one coverage drills. "I thought it was very good," Smith said of Jones' first day. "You guys saw it. He was running routes very well. I thought the timing between he and [quarterback] Matt [Ryan] was good. We have a plan, a prescription that we're going to try to stay by for the first couple of weeks, and then we'll make an evaluation after that. It was great to see Julio back on the field."
Smith promised camp would get a little physical. Outside linebacker Kroy Biermann and rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews got into a scuffle that led to a punch thrown. Remember, Biermann missed most of last season with an Achilles tear, so he's no doubt itching to get back at it. "Kroy has not been able to be out on the field … I'm sure he's excited about it," Smith said. "And I'm sure that Jake is not going to back down from anybody. I imagine we'll have some of those types of battles all through training camp. Those things are good. It keeps it spirited, and we're going to have spirited football practices here in Flowery Branch up to the start of the first game."
The offensive line will be on the spot going into the season, so seeing some fight from Matthews on Day 1 was a good start. It also was impressive new starting right guard Jon Asamoah seemed to shove guys around with ease. He was on the attack against defensive end Tyson Jackson, his old teammate in Kansas City. Tackle Lamar Holmes, who is on the roster bubble, showed fight going against Tyler Starr in pass-rush drills, while veteran newcomer Gabe Carimi seemed to be frustrated with his performance during the same drill.
Smith declined to go into detail about why the team waived second-year receiver Darius Johnson before practice. Johnson contributed as a reserve receiver last season. "No, I'm not going to comment on the reason that Darius was released," Smith said. "We never do. But there was a transaction that we put in today, and he's no longer a member of our team."
Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi, the guy the Falcons are counting on to provide a consistent pass rush, took a few plays off after grabbing his hamstring. But Massaquoi said he was fine despite being stretched out by a member of the training staff, so it might have been cramps. He returned at the end of practice.