Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan set aside some time for Austin Hooper during the offseason. They practiced together in California right before training camp. Their intent is pretty clear: get on the same page and watch it pay dividends.
Because Hooper is the presumptive starting tight end, Ryan’s interest in Hooper’s development isn’t surprising. Ryan played with Tony Gonzalez for five years, so he knows how valuable the position can be, if it’s played by the right person under the right circumstances. So how are Ryan and Hooper getting along at Falcons training camp? To be frank, I have no idea. I heard a rumor that Hooper accidentally scratched Ryan’s “The Notebook” DVD, but that’s just meaningless Twitter chatter. We’re four days into training camp, everything’s awesome at this point.
But here’s the link to Ryan’s post-practice interview today. And here’s what he had to say about Hooper:
“I expect a lot. Hoop’s done a great job for us. He played at a high level for us as a rookie. And I think having this offseason to be able to spend time in the facility, learn, catch his breath a little bit ... I’m just impressed with the way that he works. He’s dedicated. He wants to be a great player. And when you have guys like that, it’s exciting to be around them.”
It’s fun watching Ryan’s rapport with Hooper, both on and off the field, develop. Hopefully Hooper can live up to Ryan’s expectations going forward.