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T.J. Yates returning to Atlanta as passing game specialist

A familiar face has joined Arthur Smith’s staff.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Update: The Falcons announced Yates as a passing game specialist, not assistant quarterbacks coach. The story below has been updated.

Even under a new regime, the Atlanta Falcons are always eager to reunite with former players, apparently. A familiar face will be joining Arthur Smith’s staff as the team is reportedly hiring T.J. Yates to serve as a passing game specialist on the coaching staff, becoming the second former Falcons player to do so after tight ends coach and ex-Falcons tight end Justin Peelle joined up last week.

Since retiring from professional football following the 2017 season, Yates has served as an offensive assistant in 2019 and assistant quarterbacks coach in 2020 for the Houston Texans. In Atlanta, he’ll presumably assist first time quarterbacks coach Charles London and hang out with Matt Ryan, who he backed up for a year.

After playing three seasons for the Texans, Yates was traded to the Falcons in 2014 in return for linebacker Akeem Dent. During a 56-14 blowout against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Yates entered the game and recorded his only stats as Falcons, throwing 3-of-4 for 64 yards and 1 interception. He was eventually released by the team as part of final roster cuts prior to the 2015 season, and played in 22 games for four teams over a seven year career.

There’s no doubt that Matt Ryan will be happy to see a familiar face on the sideline after his backup and buddy Matt Schaub, also formerly with the Texans, retired earlier this month. It’ll be interesting to see whether London and Yates are also tasked with developing a young quarterback the team picks up in the draft, or whether they’ll be working with Ryan and Kurt Benkert as the team’s top option and backup.