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Aug. 3, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Paul Johnson can be a tough man to please.

Wednesday afternoon, however, he was quite content.

“I think you always look forward to the first day,” he said, after concluding the first official practice of 2011. “It’s like every season starts brand new, you have a new group of guys and its fun to get out there and get started.”

Making the day extra special was where everything took place, specifically in the brand new, state-of-the-art, Mary R. and John F. Brock III Indoor Football Practice Facility. The facility, which cost in the neighborhood of $9 million, was made possible by a $3.5 million gift from the Brocks.

“It’s a great facility. it’s got everything that we need,” Johnson said. “We actually practiced outside today but we stretched in there and the kickers went in there and kicked some and I think we had one period of one-on-ones. But the way it’s setup, now we can go in and out and use it and it will be a huge plus.”

Johnson said the advantages of the facility will be more evident once the unpredictable Atlanta weather kicks in.

“I think just being able to go inside,” he said. “Like today, it was 25 degrees cooler in there and when we get the inclement weather, like we know we’re going to get here in the fall, with the thunderstorms and the lightning, you can go in there and continue to practice without being disrupted.”

The team practiced for a little over an hour and a half on Wednesday, as they had done conditioning tests earlier in the day.

The Jackets will have two-a-days beginning next Monday and taking place over the next two Mondays and Wednesdays, Johnson hinted that should more days near 100 degrees, more sessions will be held indoors.

“We went outside today but you monitor it,” he said. “It’s day one. If we’re in day 12 and it’s really hot we might do more things inside.”

It’s only 29 days until the season opener, which takes place Thursday night, September 1 against Western Carolina.

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