We are very close to the biggest wasteland of the NFL calendar. This year, we’ve had front office and coaching staff hires to talk about, free agency and the draft, and then OTAs, an unfortunate trade of a franchise icon and minicamp. The year has been quite full, but for the next month-plus, we’ll get very little from the Falcons except perhaps a couple of signings and the training camp schedule release.
So forgive me if I’m still interested to hear what came out of the final day of Falcons OTAs that was open to the media, even if there was nothing close to earthshattering or even groundtrembling. Below, find a few notes and clips from reporters who were there.
Spirited line competitions ahead
There’s two open starting jobs on the offensive line and multiple gigs on the defensive line, as well, and Arthur Smith essentially is saying those competitions haven’t begun yet.
We know that Marlon Davidson is healthier and hopefully ready to make an impact in his second year, and as of today, we know Graham is someone who has had an encouraging start to his rookie year. Beyond that, the defensive line really does largely look like an open battle, with only Grady Jarrett absolutely guaranteed a major role.
When I asked about Marlon Davidson and Ta'Quon Graham trying to make an impact in a crowded D-Line room, Arthur Smith said Davidson has been working hard. Said Ta'Quon Graham is mature and he enjoys working with him. But, real eval of big guys comes in 6 weeks. #TrainingCamp2021— Tenitra Batiste (@tenitrabatiste) June 14, 2021
All the work to this point is prep, but it sounds like Davidson and Graham will both be worth keeping an eye on. Smith also acknowledged that, as is always the case, some spots won’t really be up for competition barring injury or an unexpected, dramatic drop-off in a longtime starter’s game. That includes Jake Matthews, Jarrett, Chris Lindstrom, and likely (though not 100% certain here) Kaleb McGary.
Arthur Smith also said he hopes the competition amongst the D-Line (and O-Line too) is going to be hot. Said some more than others you can pencil in...like Jake Matthews at LT (as his O-Line example). But, there will be competition everywhere come #Falcons training camp. https://t.co/DmwnY19iwH— Tenitra Batiste (@tenitrabatiste) June 14, 2021
It’s hard not to get excited about Falcons football, regardless of your hopes
We don’t know how the Falcons are going to do this year, with many fans impossibly excited already and others having effectively given up on this being a good season either post-draft or post-Julio Jones trade. But seeing the drills in recent weeks has only reinforced for me that, good or bad or in between, I’m so ready to see Falcons football games again. That was about the only non-line related thing worth commenting on yesterday with, per D. Orlando Ledbetter’s estimate, 22 players missing from voluntary OTAs. Hopefully it tides you over a little while.
Last Falcons open to the media OTA. Watch those handoffs. pic.twitter.com/V24IKzm5JQ— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) June 14, 2021
and here’s some obligatory Kyle Pitts/Matt Ryan footage to hold you over until July. pic.twitter.com/YOcP08W9GO— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) June 14, 2021
Qadree Ollison asks the big questions
Let’s end it on an entertaining note. I’m now rooting for this to continue throughout the season, just to see how committed he is to the bit.
We’ll see what news we get, if any, in the days ahead, but you know the drill by now. It’s time to pivot to predictions, plumbing the past for this franchise for fun memories, and talking about the many position battles ahead, like the ones Smith is excited about on both lines. Hopefully, time will fly.