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Falcons rookie report for Week 15: Rolling rookies with big roles

Drake London, Desmond Ridder, Tyler Allgeier, and Timothy Horne all have outsized roles right now.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 Falcons draft class figured to be an impactful one, and it has been. Who has been impactful and when they’ve carved out major roles? That has been a bit of a surprise.

Against the Ravens, Drake London continued his recent dominance and also unfortunately his fumbling woes, Tyler Allgeier showed he should be the team’s top running back, Desmond Ridder made strides, and Troy Andersen and Timothy Horne have formally settled in as starters for the Falcons. Let’s get to this week’s rookie report.

WR Drake London: Big day marred by fumble

The rookie receiver caught fire over the past three weeks, reeling in six catches for 95 yards on 12 targets in Marcus Mariota’s final start and picking up a combined 14 catches for 166 yards on 20 targets in Desmond Ridder’s first two starts. On Saturday against the Ravens, he put up a career-best 96 yards and had a pair of incredibly impressive leaping grabs on the day. The promise is evident and the production is here.

Unfortunately, London also had a costly fumble for the second straight week, with the Ravens punching the ball out after another huge fourth down conversion. Until London gets that habit of turning it over out of the way he won’t quite be this team’s most dangerous weapon, but he’s getting there very quickly.

OLB Arnold Ebiketie: Diminished role again

Is Ebiketie 100%? The rookie exited Week 12 and has seen his role shrink since then, leading one to wonder if it’s because of injury. He showed up a couple of times to deliver pressure on Saturday, but it’s curious that the team’s most promising pass rusher isn’t getting significant snaps at the end of the year when the development time would presumably be useful. I’m hopeful the team is just being cautious with him and he’ll finish the year strong.

ILB Troy Andersen: Full-time starter now

For the second straight week, Andersen played most of the game, with Mykal Walker effectively heading to the bench and getting some light work like the rookie was early in the season.

The results have been mixed. Andersen’s ability and potential are readily evident every week, but his tackling and habit of waiting a tick too long to try to make a play are also showing up, and they did again versus Baltimore. The Falcons are smart to give him as much time as they can to iron those things out, given that they clearly have high hopes for him in 2023.

QB Desmond Ridder: Much improved in second start

A slow start made us wonder if Ridder was in for a long afternoon, but he settled down and took a significant step forward against Baltimore. This team has to do better in the red zone and that’s something Ridder can help with by being a bit more decisive, but his arm looked live and he threw quite a few impressive balls on Saturday. His final stat line (22/33 for 218 yards) reflected that improvement, and now we just wait to see if he can continue to make strides in the final two weeks.

OLB DeAngelo Malone: Small role again

I’d like to see more of Malone, who keeps getting single digit snaps despite the team’s lack of pass rush punch and clear need to evaluate young players. We may have to wait until 2023 if the team’s snap counts on a week-to-week basis. He did chip in a pair of tackles against Baltimore.

RB Tyler Allgeier: On a roll

Allgeier didn’t even play in Week 1, and he had 16 carries for 55 yards in his first two games as a Falcon. That inauspicious start has given way to borderline dominance, though.

Over the past two weeks, Allgeier has been the clear lead back and has piled up 213 yards on 35 carries, including 74 against the Ravens on 18 carries. He’s a noticeably quality blocker and continues to improve as a receiver, with a career-high four grabs and 43 yards on Saturday. He’s taken over the #1 job and will likely keep it next year, and the offense essentially flows through him at the moment.

DL Timothy Horne: Starter now

The 2022 undrafted free agent has continued to take advantage of his opportunities, and he played a career-high 71% of the defensive snaps and chipped in three tackles. It goes without saying that if you’re starting Abdullah Anderson and Timothy Horne your line is a work in progress, but Horne has been far better than I would’ve expected him to be and continues to make a strong push to be a key reserve for the 2023 even with the talent likely to be added.

LB Nate Landman: Inactive Sunday

A weekly inactive at this point, Landman will hope to be in the mix for a reserve inside linebacker and special teams role in 2023.

WR Jared Bernhardt: Still on injured reserve

He remains on the shelf, as do rookie offensive linemen (and practice squadders) Justin Shaffer and Tyler Vrabel.