Mack Hollins, who enters training camp as the Falcons’ No. 2 wide receiver, is quickly establishing himself as the go-to guy for one-liners.
“I don’t like people that eat with utensils to be honest with you,” Hollins said after Atlanta’s third training camp practice, “they make you soft.”
That quote was part of Hollins’s answer to a question about prima-donnas in a locker room, and it’s a fascinating insight into a player making a first impression with Falcons fans. In the moment, the impression it left on the reporters gathered around the 6-foot-4, 221-pound receiver with his lion’s mane of hair pulled back and tied off was one of joyous bewilderment.
Here’s a transcript of the ensuing exchange after that gem of a quote slipped out:
Reporter 1: You eat with your hands?
Hollins: Yeah, you just eat with your hands. That’s what they’re there for.
Reporter 2: Like anything?
Reporter 2, fascinatedly: Really?
Reporter 3: Pasta?
Hollins: If you can’t eat it with your hands, you shouldn’t be eating it.
Reporter 4: Soup?
Hollins: Shouldn’t be eating soup. You’ve never seen a lion eat soup. You’ve never seen a gorilla. You’ve never seen anything savage eat soup.
Fortunately, soup likely won’t be a part of Hollins’s day-to-day life with the Falcons. What they will need from the former fourth-round pick who won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 is the mischievous tenacity Hollins seems to offer.
Under Arthur Smith, the Falcons have made competitive accountability a pillar of their approach. Hollins, who is now on his fourth team, has a strong appetite for the work that it takes to build a career in the NFL, including challenging his teammates to run a mile after lifting weights last offseason. When he’s had his opportunities, he’s capitalized.
The biggest opportunity of his career came last season in Las Vegas when he earned a starting role for the first time. In that role, Hollins shined. He caught 57 passes for 690 yards and four touchdowns, averaging a healthy 13.1 yards of target depth. But it’s his passion and skill as a run blocker that could really make him an asset for Atlanta.
“I love hitting people,” Hollins said with a smile. “So, blocking in the run game is not like a minus for me like most receivers probably are. They don’t like hitting, and they don’t like getting in and mixing it up with safeties. There’s no point in being big and not hitting anybody, so it’s a fit for me … my mom said as a little kid I had anger issues.”
Hollins earned a run-blocking grade of 74.9 from Pro Football Focus on the 384 run plays he was a part of. That mark would have been the highest on Atlanta’s roster last season, and if he brings that type of effort and production, Hollins’s unique personality won’t be the first thing we associate with him.
Well, perhaps it will just have to share the spotlight. Because Hollins, who is also vehemently opposed to wearing shoes, is an undeniable 1-of-1 in the personality department.
“Oh, yeah, he’s a character for sure,” Chris Lindstrom said of his new teammate. “He’s awesome. I met with somebody this summer when he was down there in Miami who was doing 20-mile bike races with him. I was like, ‘How the hell do you have time for that in the offseason?’ But he’s an awesome guy.”
That anecdote aligns with the stories told about Hollins, and it fits with the mindset Smith hopes to cultivate in this team. Although there’s been much talk about Drake London and Kyle Pitts at the forefront of the Falcons’ pass attack, Hollins expects to push for every share of the targets he can get.
“I’ll never let Drake – he’s my roommate here – he gets no free days. Every spot in my mind, and in every receiver’s mind, is up for grabs. Just because he got a nice little signing bonus, there’s no free lunches around here. No free lunches.”