Robert Alford looking forward to Titans

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- A little talk already started well before the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans were scheduled to take the field for a joint practice Monday afternoon.

Falcons cornerback Robert Alford and Titans receiver Justin Hunter had a couple conversations leading up to the practice. But it couldn't exactly be classified as trash talk.

Alford might be saving it for the field anyhow.

"Going against the receivers with the Titans, I know Justin Hunter,'' Alford said of his old training buddy at IMG Academy. "He's one of my little homeboys. We just call each other to check up on each other to see how camp is going. But I already know we'll be battling it out. ... I'm pretty sure, if he's their best receiver, he'll be on both ends.''

The 5-foot-10, 186-pound Alford and 6-foot, 190-pound Desmond Trufant, the Falcons' starting cornerbacks, should get to test their skills throughout Monday's session. The 6-4 Hunter presents the tallest challenge, but the Titans have two other standout receivers in Kendall Wright (5-10, 191) and Nate Washington (6-1, 183).

It should be more intense than the usual practice. Then again, Alford and Trufant get a battle just about every day.

"Roddy [White], Julio [Jones] and the rest of the receivers that we have ... we have all kind of receivers,'' Alford said. "We've got the small, quick guys. We have guys like Harry [Douglas] in the slot. And we've got Roddy and Julio who are big, strong, and fast. They all help me and Trufant at practice.''

One of the things to watch for Monday is defensive holding, which is a renewed emphasis around the league this year. Officials have been brought in to call practice.

Falcons secondary coach Tim Lewis has reinforced the rules of defensive holding during meetings.

"He's been putting it on the projector, but it's up to us to go out and execute,'' Alford said. "There's nothing we can really do about the officials or the rules they have applied. We just have to obey the rules and go out there and play and not think about it.''