The Falcons officially kicked off their training camp practices today! It’s an exciting time for fans and players, and the news came flying in fast regarding some of our biggest offseason questions. We saw some interesting developments in terms of players, and also got some important injury updates on those who started out camp on the PUP list. Read on for the headlines from Atlanta’s first training camp practice.
Arthur Smith clarifies timelines for players on the PUP list
The new Falcons regime has been exceptionally secretive about injuries over the course of the offseason, and the start of training camp gave us the first bit of real news concerning swing tackle Matt Gono’s offseason surgery. Atlanta placed three players on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list on Wednesday:
- OT Matt Gono
- OT Kaleb McGary
- DT Deadrin Senat
Smith made it clear that both Matt Gono—who was wearing a neck brace, per reports—and Deadrin Senat would miss the entirety of training camp, with Gono’s injury likely keeping him out for at least a portion of the season. We received little clarity on starting right tackle Kaleb McGary’s situation, although Smith mentioned that he expected McGary back “sooner than later”.
Calvin Ridley looks healthy and ready to go
After undergoing minor foot surgery in June that caused him to miss minicamp, the Falcons’ top wideout looked healthy and was ready to go for the start of training camp.
Spent a lot of time during individual periods watching Calvin Ridley. The Falcons number one receiver looks good. Cut well out of his breaks and looked smooth as ever. https://t.co/r9wQYm6rwq pic.twitter.com/ZskvKGuVlc— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) July 29, 2021
That’s great news for an offense that is now missing Julio Jones. We’ll monitor Calvin Ridley’s progress closely over the coming weeks, but at this point there doesn’t appear to be any reason to be concerned for his availability going into the season.
Jalen Mayfield gets first shot at right tackle with McGary and Gono out
The Falcons were unexpectedly thin at offensive tackle with the news that starter Kaleb McGary and swing tackle Matt Gono would start out on the PUP list. Atlanta signed former second-round pick Jason Spriggs for additional depth, but it was unclear who the first man up would be in training camp. Well, now we know thanks to The Athletic’s Tori McElhaney:
With McGary and Gono out, it’s Jalen Mayfield at right tackle.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) July 29, 2021
Mayfield, Atlanta’s third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, was expected to transition to guard to compete for the vacant starting position on the left side. However, with the aforementioned injury-depleted depth chart at tackle, it appears that transition may have to wait awhile. Mayfield was a very good college tackle with limited starting experience and less than ideal size. He should be more comfortable playing at tackle, at least initially, but it hurts the situation at left guard.
We’ll see how much time Kaleb McGary ends up missing, and if it affects Mayfield’s ability to compete at guard.
Marlon Davidson looks healthy and stacked
After an injury-plagued rookie season that saw defensive lineman Marlon Davidson miss time on the COVID list, among other things, the former second-round pick appears healthy and physically impressive heading into his second training camp.
Quick thought: I think Marlon Davidson looks good, physically. Don’t know if he’s toned up this offseason but he looks like he’s been putting in some work.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) July 29, 2021
It’s unclear what Davidson’s role will be in the new defensive scheme under Dean Pees, but his talent and athleticism make him a favorite to start in pass rushing packages alongside Grady Jarrett (who also seems to be pretty excited to see Davidson healthy). We’ll see how Davidson performs over the course of camp and the preseason, but it’s fair to say that fans are very excited to see him healthy and on the field.
Brandon Copeland getting reps with the EDGE group
It’s been well documented that I have concerns with the Falcons’ depth at EDGE. With the departure of Barkevious Mingo, Atlanta seems to have made little effort to replace him with another starting-caliber player. One possible solution could be giving some outside reps to players who have experience there but are technically listed at other positions, and that appears to be the case early on with LB Brandon Copeland.
Noticed Brandon Copeland working with the outside linebackers in individual drills. I’ve had him inside in all of my projections, but it’s a move that (if it sticks) would make sense considering the lack of depth outside right now.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) July 29, 2021
Copeland is officially listed as a ILB on the roster, but has played EDGE in the past for the Jets. He even had a 5-sack season as a part-time starter back in 2018, so he’s clearly got some talent there. It’ll be interesting to see how much of an opportunity he gets as a pass rusher going forward, along with other versatile players like John Cominsky and Mykal Walker.