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RB Bijan Robinson felt “great” upon his return to practice

Falcons running back Bijan Robinson’s ankle injury was a mild sprain that lingered after last season. Terrin Waack

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – What a pleasant surprise for the Atlanta Falcons.

Running back Bijan Robinson returned to practice on Monday. He missed the first six sessions of organized team activities due to an ankle injury. Head coach Raheem Morris originally expected Robinson to be back for the mandatory minicamp next week. As it turned out, Robinson’s recovery was ahead of schedule.

“I feel great,” Robinson said. “I know I had to continue to recuperate and feel comfortable again to be back to myself. But it’s good. It’s good to be back on the field with the boys.”

It probably helped that the Falcons had last week off, a break between their second and third set of offseason workouts.

Robinson described the injury to his left ankle as “a mild sprain.”

“It kind of stuck during the season,” he said. “But I trained for it all the time and I went hard. It was something I felt, but didn’t feel that bad.”

OTAs are Phase 3 of the Falcons’ offseason program. Robinson participated in everything leading up to it, including the voluntary mini-camp in April. That was around the time trainers had him checked out as a precaution.

When the OTAs started in May, Robinson was conspicuously missing.

“For me, because I wasn’t on the field, I tried to be a good leader off the field, help the young guys and help everyone get back into shape,” Robinson said. “Now that I’m there, what’s fun about today is continuing that leadership and still leading by example.”

That wasn’t the only thing Robinson liked.

“I didn’t really hold anything back either,” Robinson said. “I was full.”

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Apple: Nine players were missing during Monday’s open training. The list includes an outside linebacker Bralen Trice, cornerbacks Mike Hughes And Kevin King, running backs Jase McClellan And Robert Brands and then defensive linemen David Onyemata, Grady Jarrett, Eddie Goldman And James Smith Williams.

However, Morris had no injury updates.

ANOTHER RETURN: Next to Robinson, cornerback AJ Terrell returned to training on Monday. Terrell was present for the first set of OTAs, but not the second. The reason was never disclosed.

Morris expected Terrell to be back this week. In his absence, however, Morris was impressed with the cornerback Clark Phillips III when he filled in at the starting high school.

“I was really excited to see him go out,” Morris said. “The best thing about corners is that they look like left tackles. If you don’t notice a change, there’s probably something good going on, and that’s what happened at the cornerback position.”

However, Phillips was noticed – in a good way.

“Last week, Clark had a pick-six,” Morris said. “That’s a pretty impactful play.”

DIRECT REPEAT: Since the Falcons returned to practice in April, there has been a hard-to-miss addition to the field. A huge video board now sits on the sidelines. It shows live and playback images.

Morris brought the digital tool from Los Angeles to Atlanta. Not literally. Just the idea.

“There’s nothing like going through a walk-through, jogging, practicing, and you look all the way to the right and you can give the player immediate feedback on something you may have missed live,” Morris said. “That immediate feedback is so important. … By giving that immediate feedback, you can make those corrections in real life and iterate on something so you don’t leave something on the grass and have to wait until the next day.”

Ultimately, the goal for the Falcons is to have two video boards.

“We’re almost there,” Morris said. “Once we have that second screen, we’ll get started.”

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