The Falcons kicked off the first week of preseason practice on Monday, meaning we’re just a few short days away from some live NFL football. Here are some of the most interesting observations from Day 11, including a spectacular downfield catch from Cordarrelle Patterson and an encouraging return to the field from Dante Fowler.
Dante Fowler impresses in 1-on-1 drills, Jonathan Bullard continues working with starters
After missing the veteran edge rusher for the first week of training camp, Dante Fowler Jr. returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. He’s been working back in slowly and still has been largely absent from team sessions, but Fowler was reportedly impressive in 1-on-1 drills today per ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. He beat starting left tackle Jake Matthews and generally continued to look like the most explosive EDGE on the roster—which isn’t surprising considering the state of the depth chart, but is at least encouraging.
Elsewhere on the defensive line, veteran Jonathan Bullard has continued to earn reps with the starters. It’s a stacked depth chart on the interior, with five players virtually guaranteed roster spots in Grady Jarrett, Tyeler Davison, John Cominsky, Marlon Davidson, and rookie Ta’Quon Graham. However, Bullard has impressed enough—and offers enough versatility as an inside/outside player—that he could convince the team to keep six interior linemen. I projected the team to do just that in my latest 53-man roster projection.
Jason Spriggs gets rest day, Qadree Ollison limited
During Monday’s practice, RB Qadree Ollison was spotted in a yellow jersey by ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. He’s been able to get some clarity on what that means:
[Players in a yellow jersey] can do some 7-on-7, individual, and passing work—but that’s it.
So Ollison—and any other players who happen to wear the yellow jersey—are effectively “limited” in practice that day. In other injury news, OT Jason Spriggs received a veteran rest day as he continues to recover from an injury he suffered last year. There was no update on the status of CB Kendall Sheffield, FB Keith Smith, or WR Austin Trammell.
Willie Beavers starts at RT, Kaleb McGary and Jalen Mayfield primarily with second-team OL
Kaleb McGary has only been back off the PUP list for a few days, but he’s already started getting work in team sessions and is working his way back in to the starting lineup. McGary did get reps with the starters during one team session, but “largely” spent the day rotating in with the second team, per ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. The same was true for Jalen Mayfield, who appears to have lost his hold on the starting right tackle spot to Willie Beavers.
Speaking of Willie Beavers, he’s apparently impressed the coaching staff quite a bit. He’s taken control of the starting job at right tackle in the absence of McGary and Jason Spriggs. Beavers is a former fourth-round pick of the Vikings with solid size and athleticism, so the potential is certainly there. We’ll see if that winds up delivering him a roster spot as the swing tackle.
Defense continues to get hands on the ball
The defense has made a lot of plays early, particularly in the turnover department. That’s been a big point of emphasis from Arthur Smith and new defensive coordinator Dean Pees, and it’s shown thus far. There were a number of impressive plays once again, with some familiar faces making their presence known. First, we have this impressive coverage play from veteran CB Fabian Moreau:
Moreau had a quiet start to camp, but that can be a good thing for a defensive back. He’s been making more noise lately, getting his hands on some PBUs and interceptions. Other defenders notching PBUs today, per Rothstein: LB Deion Jones (against Kyle Pitts, no less), rookie CB Avery Williams, safety Duron Harmon, and LB Brandon Copeland. I’ll send you off with one more highlight play of second-year LB Mykal Walker catching a diving INT off a deflection.
Cordarrelle Patterson makes the offensive play of the day
One offensive play stood out today, per ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. Running back Cordarrelle Patterson caught a beautiful deep pass from Matt Ryan, going over the top of Jacob Tuioti-Mariner to make the grab and keep both feet in bounds. It seems like the Falcons are planning to deploy Patterson as a swiss army knife, using his skillset to create matchup problems against the defense. If you’re saying “well Jacob Tuioti-Mariner is an edge rusher, why is he in coverage against Patterson?”, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
Thanks for following along with us again today, and once again thanks to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein for providing detailed practice notes for us to consume. Atlanta’s first preseason game is just a few days from today: Friday, August 13 at 7:00 PM ET. We’ll be providing live play-by-play coverage on The Falcoholic Live, so stay tuned for updates on when the show will be on the air!