I can’t believe it but we are talking about football again. No more mock drafts. No more COVID restrictions. No more virtual practices. No more media restrictions. No more wondering if the team will trade Matt Ryan (Julio is still undecided, it seems). Holy cow this feels good.
The rookies are in Flowery Branch and I am very excited about some light practice. Let’s get it.
New year, new team. We still have so many questions about what the new team will look like under Arthur Smith and Dan Pees. The Falcons have the highest draft pick since 2008 in Kyle Pitts, hopefully a major game changer for an offense that has been frustratingly predictable. Pees has his work cut out for him, too. He’s being handed a rundown Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight and been instructed to run some laps in an F1 circuit.
Let’s see what we can learn after our first practice by taking a quick look at what the beat writers had to say.
Falcons rookie S Richie Grant said practice was a little fast Friday -- but he thought that was intentional.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) May 14, 2021
Said the last two weeks have been "a lot of waiting" for him to get ready to be out there.
I’m hoping to see new and more effective practices. Under Mike Smith, practices lacked energy. Under Dan Quinn, practices seemed to lack structure. The results were similar and the team rarely looked polished early in the season. Hopefully Smith can work better with players and let the best man start.
#Falcons CB Darren Hall just picked off a pass that bounced off WR Antonio Nunn’s hands. The rooks had to be told, “Go Congratulation the guy!”— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) May 14, 2021
I know practice interceptions don’t mean much but I can’t stop myself from enjoying them.
Hearing new safety Richie Grant has made me a bit sad for the loss of both Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen. Especially Allen. Only a few seasons ago, Allen was one of the league’s best young safeties. Now the team needs Grant to fill Allen’s shoes.
That won’t be easy.
Here’s a shaky, slightly blurry video of Kyle Pitts from today’s rookie camp that I know you all were waiting with bated breath for. pic.twitter.com/6yiSJNf8iO— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) May 14, 2021
Heck yeah, blurry video from practice. Pitts should be a major key for 2021, providing an amazing amount of versatility in an offense that prizes versatility.
Pitts was put in pre-snap motion often.... One thing was evident though and that is Pitts is going to be a focal part of Atlanta’s offense.
Conway had an interesting point about my favorite undrafted free agent running back Javian Hawkins.
While he is undersized for the position, on a few different occasions Hawkins should why he was such a dynamic back in college. His ability to shoot through the open gaps with his speed was noticeable as the Falcons were running a high-tempo style of practice for Day 1.
Undrafted players have rarely provided an impact for the Falcons. That usually causes me to temper expectations for any undrafted player that eventually makes the roster. Hawkins surprisingly dropped out of the draft and has only Mike Davis clearly ahead of him. He could surprise and it could happen sooner rather than later.
That’s it for Day 1. Expect to see some patterns through rookie minicamp where we can really learn what players shine.