It was another fine day for Atlanta’s rookies on Sunday against the 49ers, as their three top picks had major roles against San Francisco and a few others chipped in significant efforts as the Falcons won 28-14.
Here’s this week’s edition of the rookie report.
WR Drake London: Tidy day for the productive rookie
London only received four targets on a day where Marcus Mariota threw just 14 passes, which means he rolled up about a quarter of those throws on Sunday. He turned those passes into three grabs for 40 yards, which was tied for second on the team in receptions and second in terms of yardage.
London won’t put up huge numbers every week in an attack where Mariota simply isn’t passing all that often, but he’s a critical piece of the offense as a blocker and remains an effective, productive wide receiver when the ball heads his way. He’s having a great rookie season, and if the volume starts to pick up again, he’ll deliver.
OLB Arnold Ebiketie: No sacks, but plenty of pressure
The rookie pass rusher looks every bit as good as we had hoped. He didn’t close it out with a sack, but Ebiketie hit Jimmy Garoppolo twice, impacted his throws, and continues to get pressure at a rate that Falcons defenders of the past five years can only dream of.
He’ll start closing out those sacks soon—he’s real close—but Ebiketie is already an impactful defender who has excelled at getting after the quarterback.
ILB Troy Andersen: Starts, makes several big stops
Mykal Walker missed this game, but Andersen filled in admirably. He led the team in tackles, and while he struggled a bit with some of the 49ers’ screens, Andersen looked characteristically fast and lively against the run and at times in coverage. He also had a huge tackle on special teams to prevent what might’ve been a return touchdown had he not been there, so all in all, a very successful day for the rookie. The sky remains the limit for him, but he’ll head back for more of a reserve role if Walker is active on Sunday against the Bengals.
QB Desmond Ridder: No snaps Sunday
Especially with Marcus Mariota enjoying his best performance of the 2022 season, Ridder isn’t sniffing the field right now. As long as Mariota stays healthy and the Falcons keep winning, that will continue to be true.
OLB DeAngelo Malone: Active as a reserve
He’s being brought along slowly, but is a physical and active defender with a bright future. You’ll continue to see glimpses of his promise on Sundays, but he’ll need injury to command a larger role.
RB Tyler Allgeier: Another busy day on the ground
They may not have averaged a ton of yardage, but Allgeier and Caleb Huntley kept things moving forward all day on Sunday. Allgeier put up 51 yards on 15 carries and dominated the backfield snaps, continuing to get work as a runner and as a blocking option.
Damien Williams may be back soon and Cordarrelle Patterson shouldn’t be that far away, but Allgeier will continue to have a significant role in this backfield during his rookie season.
DL Timothy Horne: A major part of the defensive line rotation
Horne has settled into a groove. He’s getting 15-20 snaps per game and looks better by the week, particularly against the run, and should be able to keep a role here unless the Falcons add more bodies to the defensive line. Even then, Horne has shown enough to think that he’ll be active weekly and playing for this squad, and that he’ll likely be able to keep a similarly-sized role into 2023.
LB Nate Landman: Major special teams role, small role on defense
Keep copying and pasting here. Landman plays a very small role on defense weekly as the last inside linebacker off the bench, but is an important piece of the special teams puzzle for Marquice Williams and company. He’s ahead of Nick Kwiatkoski on the pecking order at linebacker still, which means he should be able to find his way onto the field on a weekly basis.
WR Jared Bernhardt: No snaps this week
The Falcons barely have enough room for Damiere Byrd and Bryan Edwards in this passing game, so Bernhardt will continue to sit for now. The Falcons will find him a role down the line, but he may need to wait until 2023 for consistent snaps.