FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the Falcons were proceeding "full speed ahead" with Lamar Holmes as their starting right tackle for Sundays season opener.
But a simultaneous process to get newly signed Jeremy Trueblood up to speed is apparently afoot.
Whether Trueblood was brought in to serve as a veteran backup for the right and left sides something the Falcons had previously lacked or was signed to compete with Holmes, who has only played in one NFL game (zero starts), is not immediately clear.
The Falcons could have signed Trueblood, who boasts 84 career NFL starts with the Buccaneers, when he was cut by the Redskins a short time ago. If they had done that, Trueblood would have had another week of practice under his belt before the Week 1 game against the Saints.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith said the team was more focused on evaluating its own players than seeing who was available as a free agent.
"We were working our roster, trying to get our roster down to 53," Smith said on Wednesday. "After we got an opportunity to see who was available, we were very familiar with Jeremy, having had the opportunity to play against him when he was at Tampa all those years.
"Youre going through a lot of evaluations on your own roster and they're pretty intense evaluations. After you make your evaluations, thats when you probably spend more time at who's available."
Another possibility: The Falcons gave Holmes, a third-round draft pick last season, all four preseason games to prove himself; and after the fourth, they decided Holmes might need more competition or the team needed more help at the position.
In any event, quarterback Matt Ryan appeared enthusiastic at the signing of his former Boston College teammate. Ryan had spoken to Trueblood a few times before Wednesday's practice, to help better prepare the 6-foot-8, 320-pound lineman.
"I help out as much as I can when I have a free minute here and there," Ryan said. "But at the same time, I've got a lot of work to do myself to get myself prepared."
Ryan, interviewed prior to practice, was asked about helping Trueblood on the practice field.
"Absolutely," he said. "We havent had the opportunity to get out on the field, but I've talked to him about a handful of different things. He's a smart guy. I know that from having played with him. Hes played a long time in this league, so Im sure hell pick it up quick."
Trueblood played left tackle in college but has mostly played right in the NFL. At Boston College, Ryan was a sophomore when Trueblood was a senior.
"He's a great guy, very good teammate, good player," Ryan said of Trueblood. "He's a veteran guy that's played in a number of games, understands what it takes to be successful so I think it's a good pick-up for us."
Trueblood received a call from his agent on Sunday, asking if he wanted to try out with the Falcons. Two days later, he was signed by the club.
Asked after practice how Trueblood performed, Smith said he was more focused on other things but that he planned on watching the tape.
Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, who battled against Trueblood at times in past NFC South battles, described the O-lineman's technical aspects.
"He's a straightforward guy that does his work and makes sure and that he's keying on every little thing," Babineaux said. "He didnt give up too many tendencies pre-snap. He's got a lot of years in this league, so Im sure with him being here he can help most of the guys out."
Trueblood was asked if his style was that of a brawler.
"In the past, I've been like that," he said. "Im not scared to get down and dirty, but I dont think any offensive lineman really is."
Trueblood said his biggest challenge is learning the terminology.
"Oh, yeah, I'm getting thrown into the fire, but I welcome the challenge," he said, "It's fun. Its just football at the end of the day. Just fun to be playing."
Trueblood injured his shoulder last season with Tampa Bay and was put on season-ending injured reserve. He said the shoulder is "100 percent" now.
Bruce Allen, who was Tampa Bay's general manager when the Bucs drafted Trueblood seven years ago (Round 2), is now in Washington. However, it sounds like Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan didn't give Trueblood much of a look in training camp.
"I didnt get to play much, so there's really not much to judge," Trueblood said. "If I would have got more of an opportunity, maybe I could've told you about that. Obviously, it wasnt the best camp of my life. Kind of hard when you only get a couple of reps."
It remains to be seen if Trueblood gets a lot more reps with the Falcons in regular season games.
Notes: The Falcons had four players on their injury report, all practicing in one form or another. Placekicker Matt Bryant (back) was at full participation. Wide receiver Roddy White, cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas were all limited.