Falcons players reported to Flowery Branch on Tuesday ahead of training camp. As we remember from last year, the new first step after players report is testing for COVID-19. A heavy number of players across the league tested positive to kick off the 2020 offseason.
2021 sees fewer players testing positive, but the Falcons were not fully immune from the ongoing pandemic. In total, they placed four players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Players placed on Reserve/COVID-19 include #Falcons TE Lee Smith, #Texans WR Taywan Taylor, #Giants LB Blake Martinez, #Jets T George Fant, #49ers DB Emmanuel Mosley.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 27, 2021
This is still intake testing as players report -- the time when positivity rates were highest in 2020.
DT John Atkins, DE Kobe Jones, TE Lee Smith and OL Willie Wright are out on the COVID-19 reserve list for the Falcons. Last season, this did not necessarily mean a positive test but could be a close contact situation, too.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) July 27, 2021
Lee Smith was a surprising acquisition by the Falcons. The team traded a 7th-round pick for a 33-year-old tight end best known for his blocking prowess. Atlanta has since drafted Kyle Pitts with the 4th overall pick, while Hayden Hurst remains on the roster with Jaeden Graham. Smith was added for his blocking ability, which he showed in Buffalo in recent seasons.
The other three players on this list will all be competing for roster spots, meaning any time they miss hurts their chances. Hopefully all are healthy.
We are not sure if Smith was vaccinated or not vaccinated, meaning we are unsure how much time he will miss under the NFL’s new protocol. Smith is certain to be a very important part of finally fixing the team’s run game with his blocking acumen. Not having Smith present to start off camp is a little concerning as Arthur Smith installs the new offense.