Mandatory minicamp wrapped up for the Falcons on Thursday, leaving a handful of OTAs left before training camp. The last day featured drama, intrigue, and action that would cause fans who are faint of heart to swoon.
Okay, so it actually featured very little of that, but it still sounds like it was a fun day, with Scott Bair with the Falcons writing that it was complete with Marlon Davidson kicking a field goal. Here’s our roundup of reports for the day.
Atlanta adds linebacker Jeff Holland
Sharif Finch had the connection to Dean Pees and Jaleel Scott had ties to former Ravens scout Dwaune Jones, but in the end, Holland gets the roster spot. One of five tryout players for minicamp, Holland put up nearly 10 sacks his senior season at Auburn but has spent the past three seasons bouncing around to different teams. If he can show something this summer, he has a chance of latching on to the roster or the practice squad for a team that could use more outside linebacker help.
Qadree Ollison impressing
Now in his third year, Ollison was drafted in 2019 when Dirk Koetter returned to the team, leading us to speculate that he might be the kind of physical back Koetter has traditionally sought to feature. Instead, Ollison got little run during Koetter’s two seasons in Atlanta despite a generally miserable ground game, and it was fair to wonder what to expect for him under Arthur Smith, especially after the team signed Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson.
As we’ve cautioned all along, it’s way too early to draw any sweeping conclusions, but Smith had some kind words about Ollison’s performance to this point.
Arthur Smith said Qadree Ollison, with what they’ve thrown at him, is doing a nice job with the middle part and the protections. Said he’s happy with Ollison’s progress. #Falcons pic.twitter.com/f5kBkYxjLF— Tenitra Batiste (@tenitrabatiste) June 10, 2021
A strong summer is going to be really important for Ollison, who will likely enter the year behind at least Mike Davis and Cordarelle Patterson on the depth chart, but certainly offers the physicality at the position Arthur Smith likes. Patterson is not under contract after this year and still figures to be something less than a full-time running back this year, so the chance is there for Ollison to seize a role and potentially expand it in his 2022 contract season. This is, at the very least, a good start.
Falcons confirm value of versatility for this team
We’ll end on this note: The Falcons grabbing players like Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson who can credibly line up in different spots is not an accident. Arthur Smith drew some NBA parallels to make that point, but it’s readily evident that philosophically, his coaching staff believes in putting talented players in a variety of situations to create problems for opposing teams, with the two players I just mentioned being the best examples from the offseason. Just like Mike Smith with Kroy Biermann!
That will extend to Russell Gage. He received the bulk of his playing time in the slot in 2020 and has thrived there in his career, but with Julio gone he’s likely going to get more opportunities to split out wide in this offense. Keep an eye on his usage in preseason.
Arthur Smith said that while Russell Gage has a history of doing a nice job in the slot, #Falcons envision him playing multiple spots.— Tenitra Batiste (@tenitrabatiste) June 10, 2021
We’re now to final OTAs and then a long month or so until training camp. We get closer to 2021 Falcons football every day, at least.