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Falcons set to close out OTAs this week
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Falcons set to close out OTAs this week

Falcons coach Mike Smith after OTAs

Falcons set to close out OTAs this week

The Falcons, who already have five of their eight draft picks signed, are set to open the final week of their organized team activities Tuesday.

The team, which has four more sessions left, will practice Tuesday through Friday before breaking for the weekend.

They are currently working on signing first-round pick cornerback Desmond Trufant, second-round pick cornerback Robert Alford and seventh-round pick quarterback Sean Renfree.

Trufant and Alford are expected to compete immediately for playing time. Renfree, who played at Duke, has a shot at landing the No. 3 quarterback position.

Trufant participated in the rookie minicamp, but, per league rules concerning college graduations, is unable to participate in the OTAs. The Falcons have used a video Internet site to include Trufant in as many meetings as possible.

Alford has taken snaps with the first and second units at right, left and nickel cornerback.

Renfree, who suffered a shoulder injury in Duke’s bowl game, is working with the quarterbacks, but is just handing the ball off. He is expected to be ready to throw by training camp.

After OTAs, the team will reconvene for its mandatory minicamp on June 18-20, before taking the summer break. Training camp is set to open on July 25.

Falcons coach Mike Smith anticipates the tempo of the non-contact drills will pick up this week as the new players become acclimated to the schemes.

“I really like the way that the guys have been working,” Smith said. “It’s been a very competitive through the first half of the OTAs.”

Each team is allowed 10 OTA sessions over the offseason.

“There are some young guys that really have learned our scheme that we feel like are going to be able to help us,” Smith said. “Those are probably the two biggest highlights.”

The signing of first-round picks has been slow around the league.

Almost 200 of the 254 draft picks league-wide are under contract. Seven teams have signed all their picks and 31 teams have signed at least one.

The market for Alford, taken with the 60th pick in the draft, is set. Green Bay signed former Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, the 61st overall pick, on May 30. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Lacy’s deal with the Packers is worth $3.392 million and included an $847,208 signing bonus.

Last season’s 61st pick, San Francisco running back LaMichael James, was signed for $3.318 million with a signing bonus of $853,744. A total of $1.4 million of the deal was guaranteed.

The 60th pick last season, Baltimore’s Kelechi Osemele, signed a four-year deal worth $3.34 million with an $873,360 signing bonus.

In addition to working at cornerback, Alford has also been with the group of players catching punts.

Alford, of Southeastern Louisiana, is 5 foot 10, 185-pounds and has shown great speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the NFL scouting combine.

Southeastern Louisiana plays in the Southland Conference and Alford was the first player taken in the draft from an FCS school.

Alford started off his career as a receiver before converting to defensive back. He finished his career with 10 interceptions and 21 pass breakups. He was academically ineligible for his first season in 2008.

After receiving $4.5 million in salary relief from the release of offensive tackle Tyson Clabo on June 1, the Falcons are $6.437 million under their $122.7 million salary cap, according to NFLPA documents.

The extra money appears to be dedicated to the three unsigned picks as the Falcons now have room to negotiate.

Before the savings, the Falcons had just $1.9 million of cap space. The 2012 salary cap slots from 22nd, 60th and 249th players selected totaled $2.5 million.

With slight increases, the Falcons would have just under $4 million left under the cap.

Once rookie deals are completed, the Falcons will move on to a contract extension for quarterback Matt Ryan, who’s set to join the NFL’s $100 million quarterback club.

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