Updated: 9 p.m.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — If cornerback Leon Hall is The General of the secondary, then safety Reggie Nelson is The Admiral and Admiral Nelson was pleased with how the defense communicated against the Falcons here Monday.
"Throughout the day I think the defense was on a good page, everybody was on the same page and flying around to the ball," Nelson said. "That's what we want to do is run to the ball. I think we did a good job of that today."
Last week, Nelson wasn't too sure how this thing was going to work out. He felt better about it after practice Monday.
"It went better than what I thought today. No fights. We're all pros. It went smooth," Nelson said. "More focused on doing their job and taking care of the other player. I think we did a good job of practicing like pros and hopefully we can keep that up.
"They've got some good athletes and they've got a good program going. We've got to get better. That is what we are here for, we are here to get better. Good for our defense to go against some of the good talent that is in the league."
It's old home week for Nelson. When Falcons head coach Mike Smith was the Jaguars defensive coordinator in 2007, the Jags took Nelson with their first-round pick.
"It's just like a home away from home. It's nice seeing family and stuff like that," Nelson said. "Smitty is a great coach and has a good program going here. Always good to see the family from Jacksonville and coming out here doing it."
REY, GHEE DINGED: Linebacker Vinnie Rey, who has emerged as the Bengals special teams leader this camp, injured his knee midway through the practice but was able to walk around on the sidelines for the last half of the workout. Cornerback Brandon Ghee also left early with what appeared to be cramps. DRE AND JULIO: On Monday morning before his secondary went against Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and his band of roving receivers, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had a pretty good idea what he wanted to see this week.
"See if we can cover Roddy White and Julio Jones, see if we can cover those guys because they're one of the top guys in the league. We do some one-on-one against them, which will be good," Zimmer said. "How we match up. How we adjust to things. A bunch of stuff that we haven't really practiced. They'll have to adjust as things go along in practice, which will be good. They have very talented receivers. The quarterback is excellent. Just the change of pace of going against these guys, I think it will be really good."
There's a Draft Day bonus when two Alabama first-rounders go at it. In his two previous seasons Jones has soared into the stratosphere of NFL receivers while Dre Kirkpatrick, a Bengals backup cornerback, has shown signs of his abilities after injuries wiped out virtually all of his rookie season last year.
"He's the kind of guy I was always excited about going up against," Kirkpatrick said. "The physicality that he plays with, he's a hard-nosed guy. He doesn't shy away from competition. He's always up for a challenge and I feel like that separates him. It's hard work. The guy works tremendously hard. It will be exciting. I'm not going to be overwhelmed or get too excited. I'm just going to go play."
But not much happened Monday with Jones limited and not working in team drills.
But Kirkpatrick should be excited about what Zimmer is saying about him. Finally healthy, Kirkpatrick has looked sharp and ready and Zimmer's anxious to see what he does against a new batch of receivers.
"Good. Really good. He's done actually better than I thought. He knows what he's doing. He pays attention, he loves to play," Zimmer said. "I thought he'd be a lot more rusty than what he was and actually he's done way better. He makes plays on the ball, which is good. He's got the length, which helps him. He was probably humbled a little bit last year. That's not always a bad thing.
"We see him against A.J. Green, but our guys at some point start to know his routes and formations. We haven't looked at Atlanta at all, we'll just go out there."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Zimmer, Bill Parcells's defensive coordinator, phoned an invite to his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction but Zimmer said he had too much going on Saturday to make it. While Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick went, Zimmer was using Parcell-isms on his players.
"We just did it this morning," Zimmer said of the Monday walkthrough. "We were doing situations and he was always big on situational football."
Another Parcell-ism Zimmer finds himself saying a lot: "Dumb players do dumb things. Smart players don't do dumb things."
» Zimmer has seen enough in rookie free-agent cornerback Onterio McCalebb that he's going to keep the burner at corner and not give him back to the offense, where he was a running back for Auburn. He's still raw, but Zimmer says McCalebb turns his hips and runs like an NFL corner. He's also anxious to see how the 170-pound McCalebb hits.
» Former Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski visited the Bengals headquarters here at the Legacy Lodge for a Monday lunch before practice. Bratkowski made the five-hour drive from Jacksonville, where he got let go as the Jaguars offensive coordinator after one season last year. He also worked with the Falcons in 2011 as Ryan's coach, so he's in town to visit both staffs.