HOUSTON -- A daily review of the hot topics from Atlanta Falcons training camp:
The Falcons had the first of two joint practices with the Houston Texans on Wednesday morning. More than anything, it was a chance for the offensive line to work against a rather talented Texans front seven, led by J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed and rookie Jadeveon Clowney. "I thought we got some really good work,'' Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "Coach [Bill] O'Brien and his staff did a really good job putting the practice together. Thought we went out and got a chance to work against each other. But I only saw one side of the ball. And I was back and forth. So I really don't have a true evaluation. But I thought that they worked hard. It was a different sequencing for us, coming out here in the morning. Look forward to watching the tape and seeing what tomorrow brings.'' Smith is likely to see his offensive line -- specifically Justin Blalock and Mike Johnson -- getting dominated by Watt. Rookie Jake Matthews held his own but had some trouble with Reed at one point, while Sam Baker went head-to-head with Clowney, who appeared to force Baker into a holding penalty later in practice. Nobody on the Falcons' defensive line seemed to do anything overly spectacular.
Quarterback Matt Ryan hit Harry Douglas for a touchdown pass at the end of practice and Douglas was demonstrative with his celebration. It helped that Ryan got a little extra time to throw due to solid protection up front. Ryan was asked about the timing with his receivers at this particular point in the process. "I think we're about right where we need to be this time of the year,'' he said. "We've got some things to clean up, but I think our timing has been pretty good.'' Ryan continues to re-establish his rhythm with Julio Jones, who remains on a day on, day off practice schedule with an increased workload when he participates. Jones praticed Wednesday so he's likely to be off Thursday, unless there is a last-minute change.
Unlike what we've grown accustomed to back in Flowery Branch, Georgia, no significant fights broke out during Wednesday's practice. There seemed to be just one truly heated moment when Falcons rookie fullback Maurice Hagens got into it with former Falcons linebacker Akeem Dent, who was traded to the Texans in exchange for quarterback T.J. Yates.
Running back Jacquizz Rodgers, running with the first team with Steven Jackson (left hamstring) still sidelined, had a little added motivation to perform well in practice. Rodgers is from the Houston area and had about 12 relatives and friends at the practice. "It's always good to come home,'' Rodgers said. "Got my family here. Gives them a chance to see us practice firsthand.''
Extra points: Ryan on Texans linebacker Justin Tuggle, the son of former Falcon great Jessie Tuggle. "I think he's doing a good job. He's really filled out. He actually started off at B.C. [Boston College], so I was fan of his early on.'' ... Offensive lineman Gabe Carimi returned to the field as an observer for the first time since suffering an ankle injury during a joint practice with the Tennessee Titans. ... Linebacker Tim Dobbins, who suffered an ankle injury in last week's exhibition opener against Miami, returned to practice and faced his former teammates. ... Rookie Kimario McFadden had an interception off a tipped pass. ... The Texans had receiver Andre Johnson, running back Arian Foster and linebacker Brian Cushing back to practice off injuries.
Next up: The Falcons and Texans conclude their two-day joint practices with another 8 a.m. session Thursday.