The rookies have been key players for the Falcons this year, and over the final four games, we’ll hopefully see even more of them.
Here’s this week’s rookie report, with a focus on a big day from Drake London, more quality play from Tyler Allgeier, and more.
WR Drake London: Career-best day
One of the great frustrations of the passing attack this year has been watching this team throw for under 200 yards and not utilize their two best weapons, Kyle Pitts and Drake London, frequently or effectively enough. It has been doubly frustrating watching that happen and seeing folks talk about it as though it’s part of some master plan, rather than a problem.
Pitts is out, but a conscious effort to get London more involved paid off in spades on Sunday, as he was the only consistent and effective receiving option. In all, London reeled in six catches for a career-high 95 yards, and if not for a drop and a ball Marcus Mariota sailed, that day likely would’ve been even better. We may be seeing a quarterback change here soon, but regardless of who is under center, feeding London has to be a priority.
OLB Arnold Ebiketie: Out Sunday
The rookie tried hard to play last week but simply couldn’t. He’ll be back on the field against the Saints, and the punchless pass rush Sunday showed us how badly he’s needed.
ILB Troy Andersen: Busy, exits with injury
Andersen continues to split time with Mykal Walker and had four combined tackles on Sunday against the Steelers. He’s looked like what he is: A very talented work in progress who needs all the work he can get to set him up for a larger role in 2023.
QB Desmond Ridder: On the bench, perhaps for the last time
Ridder didn’t see the field Sunday against the Steelers, which was not a surprise. Given all the talk about a quarterback change and Arthur Smith clearly opening the door for one, we may see Ridder make his rookie season debut in Week 15 against the Saints.
OLB DeAngelo Malone: Larger role and progressing
I like Malone, which is no great secret. On Sunday, he played a season-high 25 snaps with Arnold Ebiketie out and picked up a pair of tackles and a quarterback hit, combining with Grady Jarrett to crunch Kenny Pickett on one of the team’s few productive pass rushing plays.
Malone isn’t there yet, but I’d like to see more of him over the final four games because he does have promise.
RB Tyler Allgeier: Another efficient effort
Possibly the team’s rookie of the year, Allgeier has seized his opportunity and made the most of it. He finished Sunday with 10 carries for 52 yards—second on the team to Cordarrelle Patterson, who had 11 for 60—and continues to bring the physicality to the position that the Falcons are looking for.
DL Timothy Horne: A major part of the defensive line rotation again
Horne remains the lone undrafted free agent rookie to have a significant role this year. With injuries mounting on the defensive line, Horne continues to play a lot, making the occasional big play and providing mostly solid work against the run. Sunday was a bit of a tougher effort for him and the entire line with Najee Harris bullying his way through every level of the defense, but Horne’s done enough to stick as a reserve going forward.
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.