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Falcons prep for joint practices with Texans

Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice watches the players stretch on the field during practice during Falcons Friday Night Lights at Archer High School. (USA TODAY Sports: Dale Zanine)

Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice watches the players stretch on the field during practice during Falcons Friday Night Lights at Archer High School. (USA TODAY Sports: Dale Zanine)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Atlanta Falcons will practice Tuesday morning before traveling to Houston for two days of joint practices with the Texans.

“We’re still in the evaluation process,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said Monday. “When you practice against someone else you get to evaluate them against players that they haven’t seen, or haven’t been working against for 15 practices. We want to get some special teams work done. We’ve been moving a lot of guys around in the special teams, to evaluate the guys in different roles, so we’ll continue that while we’re there.”

It will be the second joint practice session of this training camp for the Falcons, who also practiced against the Tennessee Titans.

“I think it’ll be very similar, in terms of the practice schedule and the practice structure,” Smith said. “We’re a little further along, so there’ll be some situational periods that’ll be different than the Titans practice.

“We want to have a good clean practice. It’s going to be good for us to compete against some really good players. I think their team is in some ways similar to ours, in terms of the type of season they had last year.”

— Antone Smith (RB) had two big plays nullified by injury during the Falcons’ preseason opening loss to the Miami Dolphins, but Mike Smith see the backup running back seeing increased touches in certain offensive packages. One of the issues is Antone Smith is also very valuable on the special teams units.

“He continues to warrant having touches, and we’ll continue to use him in the backfield and as a special teams player because up until this year his main value has been as a special teams player,” Mike Smith said. “I believe he’s one of the top special teams players in the league, but he’s gotten an opportunity to touch the ball on the offensive side, and he’s taken advantage of those opportunities.”

— Julio Jones (WR) is expected to continue practicing every other day as the Falcons continue to be cautious with his workload following last season’s broken foot.

—Steven Jackson(RB) remains sidelined from on-field work with hamstring issues, but has been doing work on the side with the training staff.

— Devonta Freeman (RB) left the practice field with an undisclosed injury Monday, but coach Mike Smith did not believe it to be anything serious.