It was another close game for the Falcons, and another opportunity for the 2022 class of Atlanta rookies to shine. As has been the case every week thus far, at least one of them stepped up in a big way.
Troy Andersen got extended action, Drake London remains Marcus Mariota’s favorite target, and several others contributed on Sunday. Here’s this week’s edition of the rookie report.
WR Drake London: Moves the chains with targets aplenty
Drake London was targeted seven times again, just a tick under his average on the season, as he continues to be the man Mariota looks for most often. He was more productive than he was against the Browns, but once again was targeted primarily on shorter routes, and wound up finishing the game with four receptions for 35 yards.
Mariota’s trust in London is a big deal for the rookie and ensures he’ll be involved, and if the duo are able to sync up as well as they did the first couple of weeks of the season, London should have some big games in front of him. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll likely to continue to lead the team in targets.
OLB Arnold Ebiketie: Ratcheting up the pressure
A quieter matchup for Ebiketie, but he’s been one of the most productive rookie edge rushers in the NFL and is getting plenty of playing time in the early going. As he gets even more comfortable, Ebiketie should be consistently impactful and has a shot to lead the team in sacks when the dust settles.
ILB Troy Andersen: Expanded role on defense, leads team in special teams snaps
With Mykal Walker injured, Andersen stepped in. It was his most extended game action to date, and encouragingly, he looked pretty damn good in that action.
Andersen’s instincts and athleticism combine to make him impactful when he’s rolling, and he was in the right place at the right time on several occasions during this one, including a hit on Tom Brady. He also nearly blocked his second punt of the season and continues to be a core special teamer. It’s hard to imagine him overtaking Mykal Walker or Rashaan Evans at any point this season, but with Walker banged up and the team willing to get him on the field in other ways, Andersen won’t lack for playing time.
QB Desmond Ridder: No snaps Sunday
We won’t see Ridder, hopefully, until he’s ready to start, because the alternative would be an injury or dismal performance from Marcus Mariota and I want no part of either. It’s unlikely to happen either of the next two weeks.
OLB DeAngelo Malone: Active as a reserve
Again playing limited snaps, Malone continues to make plays, sniffing out a handoff to David Njoku and bringing him down for a loss. There’s a ton of promise here, even if a major role may not be on the way until 2023.
RB Tyler Allgeier: Atlanta’s leading rusher Sunday, again
A week after putting up a combined 100 yards, Allgeier didn’t quite repeat his success on Sunday against the Buccaneers. Like fellow backfield mate Caleb Huntley, Allgeier struggled to get it going behind a line that didn’t provide him with a ton of room, with close to a third of his yards coming on one 17 yard gallop.
Still, it was a solid day given the circumstances, and Allgeier is seemingly settled in to a major role in the backfield going forward. San Francisco is another tough matchup, however.
DL Timothy Horne: A major part of the defensive line rotation
Horne cleared 20 snaps for the first time in 2022, which was to be expected given that the Falcons surprisingly cut Anthony Rush last week. The undrafted free agent has worked his way into a consistent role as a piece of the defensive line rotation and has been solid enough to keep it, which is a big deal considering this team badly needs consistency along the line.
Horne should keep that level of playing time throughout the year, and has a real chance to carve out a long-term reserve role for the Falcons.
LB Nate Landman: Major special teams role, small role on defense
Copy and paste from last week. Landman is still getting some snaps on defense, albeit very limited ones, and is playing a significant number of snaps on special teams. That should continue unless/until the Falcons decide to shake up the roster a bit, or get weekly inactive Nick Kwiatkoski involved.
WR Jared Bernhardt: No snaps this week
He hasn’t played the past two weeks, with Damiere Byrd active instead. The Falcons clearly like Bernhardt a lot, so look for a larger role down the line, but it may not be until late in the season or 2023 given that the team has three receivers they use heavily and still probably want to get Byrd and Bryan Edwards more involved.