FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Matt Ryan had several good reasons
for showing up early for his first trip in five months to Atlanta
It was four long months of waiting for Ryan, but he finally
feels like a full-time, professional football player again or, as
he said Tuesday, "like a kid on Christmas morning."
Despite the NFL's longest work stoppage since 1987, Ryan
believes the Falcons are prepared to begin training camp Friday
without a glitch.
The core of last year's team and all of its elite players return
with no reports of major injuries.
But the schedule is tight. Training camp begins Friday, and all
players must report the day before. Free agent signings and
negotiations are moving at a furious pace for Atlanta, which opens
the regular season Sept. 11 in Chicago.