Minicamp is over, and now we wait until training camp. As the NFL has increasingly tried to make itself into a league where fans are interested and engaged year-round, the stretch from mid-June to late July is the last real breather or wasteland of boredom left, depending on your perspective.
There were a few worthwhile notes from assembled reporters at the final minicamp session Wednesday, and we’ve rounded up a few below. We’ll spend the next month-plus checking out the state of the roster, looking ahead to the season, and previewing some of the camp and preseason battles that figure to define the summer for this Falcons team.
Great time to check in our your other hobbies, right?
Dee Alford, rookies earn time on veteran field
Mike Rothstein observed that Drake London and Troy Andersen have been getting plenty of work with the veterans on one field, with DeAngelo Malone and Arnold Ebiketie getting work on Wednesday as well. With the possible exception of Andersen, every one of those players figures to have a major role for the team in 2022 and was drafted to have an immediate impact, so it’s not exactly surprising to see them working with more veteran teammates.
As Rothstein notes, Dee Alford got some work there too, which I find interesting. It’s irresponsibly early to declare anything about Alford’s chances of making the roster, but he was terrific in the CFL a year ago and the depth chart is mighty unsettled at cornerback behind A.J. Terrell, Casey Hayward, Isaiah Oliver, and maybe Darren Hall. It’s a good sign for Alford, if maybe only a small one, that observers like Rothstein think he’s having a quality start to his career in Atlanta.
Kyle Pitts continues to make the difficult look routine
Even in practice, you have to imagine it’s not super easy to make grabs against A.J. Terrell. It’s probably a little easier for Kyle Pitts than it is for anyone else, though.
Defense has been talking MAD smack to Kyle Pitts. In a RZ 7-on-7 drill he just laid out for what would be a touchdown and it was an insane catch. Turned to the defense and said “okay you can shut up” #Falcons— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) June 15, 2022
If you want to see his albatrossian wingspan in action, here it is.
Kyle Pitts lays out for the catch pic.twitter.com/SGJ23saWU0— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 15, 2022
Matthew Chambers wrote something you’ll read later today about just how good Pitts was against press coverage in 2021, but every practice highlight is a reminder that Pitts is going to probably be pretty good against any and all coverage in 2022. We’re looking forward to seeing him in game action soon.
As Tori McElhaney wrote, Arthur Smith made it clear the roster will likely change between now and late July, possibly sooner than later if the team took a shine to some of their tryout players this week.
Smith also had praise for Desmond Ridder, who the head coach said is, to quote McElhaney, “‘light years’ ahead of some young quarterbacks he’s worked with in the past, ‘from the neck up.’” Observers have noted that Marcus Mariota has looked sharper passing the ball thus far, but that’s only so significant in June. I’d still expect the veteran to have a significant leg up on the starting job, but Ridder’s clearly not going to roll over.