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  1. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/takeaways-falcons-defense-impresses-again-in-second-scrimmage The Falcons held their second scrimmage of AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp on Monday, and similar to the team's first scrimmage, the defense was the standout unit. All three levels of Atlanta's defense – across both the starters and backup squads – had moments of brilliance. The Falcons' defensive line, led by Grady Jarrett, knifed into the backfield against the run and didn't give up much room on the ground. There were also some notable pass-rush moments. Takk McKinley showed off his speed around the edge, beating Kaleb McGary for what would likely have been a clean sack in a game. Former first-round pick Charles Harris had two good rushes that could have potentially been sacks, and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds probably would have gotten home on a blitz late in the scrimmage. The defensive communication at the second level was apparent and led to some really good moments in pass coverage. Rookie Delrick Abrams had an interception in the back of the end zone on the only threatening offensive drive of the scrimmage. Blidi Wreh-Wilson also came up with a pick late in the scrimmage, and Isaiah Oliver was in position to grab an interception but couldn't hang on. Kendall Sheffield, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones had some really nice pass breakups during the scrimmage as well. It's tough to tell just how much to make of the defense's play in camp, because the level of talent on the field can vary from snap to snap. There's no question, though, that Atlanta's defense has been sharp for many of the practices, and that continued on Monday. Matt Hennessy continues to work with starters Although no official declaration has come from Dan Quinn about Atlanta's left guard competition, rookie Matt Hennessy seems to be getting every opportunity to prove he's up to the task of starting in 2020. He was once again working with the first-team group on Monday, something he's been doing since Atlanta's third practice of camp and first team scrimmage. While Hennessy has been working with the starters, James Carpenter has been handling the second-team left guard duties and Matt Gono has spent the past couple of practice at the backup left tackle position. Younghoe Koo goes 2-for-3 on Monday The Falcons have not given Koo many reps during camp practices to kick in a live situation, but they did so on Monday. He drilled his lone extra-point attempt of the afternoon, and he was 2-for-3 on his field-goal attempts, which occurred around the 35-yard line. Koo hit his first attempt through the uprights, but it was fairly close to the left pole. Perhaps overcorrecting a bit, Koo's second attempt went wide left of the uprights. Quinn simulated icing the kicker, but Koo still got a practice kick off and that was right down the middle, as was his third official kick of the day. Brandon Powell and Chris Rowland locked in as returners In most years, the Falcons have a handful of players rotating at kick and punt returner during training camp. This year, they've only got two. Perhaps the condensed nature of this year's camp led Atlanta to focus on getting Powell and Rowland all of the reps at returner, but that has been the case through the first six practices. Powell is in his second year with the Falcons and handled punt and kick returns while in college at Florida. Rowland, an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee State, has extensive experience returning kicks from his days in college. He returned 46 punts for 543 yards and one touchdown for Tennessee State while also returning 74 kicks for 1,689 yards and one touchdown. Quinn also named Ito Smith and Olamide Zaccheaus as players who could also handle kickoff return responsibilities if needed. More camp observations Deion Jones showed just how elite his coverage range and instincts are during the scrimmage. The offense ran a deep crossing play for Julio Jones, something they've been very successful with in the past, and Jones sniffed it out and adjusted the depth of his coverage to come out of nowhere and break up the pass. Mykal Walker got some reps with the starting defense on Monday. He's made some nice plays in camp already, including a pick in the last scrimmage, and he showed his acceleration while closing in on a receiver to prevent any yards after the catch and force a fourth down. John Cominsky has had a great camp so far, and Quinn gave him high praise before Monday's practice: "John Cominsky, from the first practice with pads all the way up through today, he has seemed like somebody that's taking that jump." Keanu Neal looked like his old self during the scrimmage. There were audible pops heard when he shoulder bumped an offensive player to simulate a tackle, and he punched the ball out of Hayden Hurst's hands to deny a catch on a third-down during a two-minute drill. Laquon Treadwell has struggled with some drops thus far in camp. He's got nice size for the position and moves around well enough, but he needs to show more consistency catching the ball.
  2. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/takeaways-takk-mckinley-explains-how-wake-up-call-is-motivating-him The Falcons returned to the field for their fourth practice of AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, but the biggest takeaway didn't occur until well after the final whistle sounded. For the first time after Atlanta declined to pick up his fifth-year option, defensive end Takk McKinley addressed the media. He was open and forthright, giving thoughtful answers to nearly every question, and it's clear McKinley has a new perspective on the game and his career after the Falcons opted not to take the fifth-year option on their first-round pass rusher. "It was a wake-up call," McKinley said. "It was more motivation, it made me hungry. I'm not saying I wasn't hungry in the past, but I've just got to go prove it." McKinley dedicated himself to becoming the best version of himself this offseason, working out Monday through Saturday with his trainers and making big changes to his diet. Those efforts appear to have paid off and McKinley showed up to camp noticeably leaner and well-defined than in years past. He declared Saturday that he now weighs 248 pounds after playing around 270 pounds last season. With a lighter frame, McKinley believes he will be able to tap into his speed this fall. He's demonstrated a lot of power as a rusher in previous years, but this would be a new element to his game that should make him a more versatile player. McKinley also hopes that playing at a lower weight will help him prevent future shoulder injuries, something that has plagued him throughout his career, and he said he's taken greater care with his rehabilitation of his shoulder this offseason. The physical and seemingly emotional changes McKinley has gone through are impressive, but they won't mean much if they don't lead to production on the field, something he's well aware of. Still, this is the most determined and focused version of McKinley we've ever seen. "You don't realize time flies," McKinley said. "I'm going into my fourth season, I feel like yesterday I just got drafted. Sometimes, being a pro, you kind of forget like '****, OK.' You feel like you've got time, but once I realized they declined my fifth-year option it's like, 'Man, if I want to be in this league, I've got to do something better.'"
  3. Without preseason games the Falcons are relying on intra-squad scrimmages to get them prepared for the season, and they held their first one on Thursday, the third day of AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp. After splitting into their usual position units for the first half of practice, the Falcons' offensive and defensive units gathered on opposite sidelines for the scrimmage. Starters competed against starters, while the second- and third-strings groups were mixed in to compete against one another. Overall, it was a strong showing for the defense. The starting defense did not give up any points and only ceded a handful of big plays – most of them coming courtesy of Julio Jones. The second- and third-team defense only gave up one big run that resulted in the only touchdown scored by either team. For fans hoping that Atlanta's defense takes a step forward in 2020, and it will need to if the Falcons are to be serious playoff contenders, Thursday's scrimmage was a great start. That's why turnovers are so important Dan Quinn has always stressed the importance of having a defense that forces turnovers, and Thursday's scrimmage illustrated exactly why he feels that way. During the final moments of the scrimmage, both defensive units forced turnovers to get off the field. Each offensive group gained possession in its own territory with just over one minute left in the first half and only one timeout. The starting group began marching downfield thanks to some precise passes from Matt Ryan, but their drive came to an end near the red zone after Calvin Ridley lost control of the ball while trying to cut upfield on a screen pass. Foye Oluokun was there to scoop up the loose ball, ending the threat and getting the defense off the field. The second-team offense began in the same situation, but they couldn't manufacture much of a drive thanks to good play by the secondary. That strong defensive effort culminated in a tipped pass by Blidi Wreh-Wilson that rookie linebacker Mykal Walker intercepted. Walker has shown a knack for getting his hands on the ball thus far in camp, securing at least three interceptions. In both two-minute-drill scenarios the defense not only prevented a touchdown, it prevented any points and gained possession back for Atlanta to potentially strike before the half. If those moments translate to the regular season, the Falcons will be in good shape. Matt Hennessy gets run with the first-team offense Perhaps the most notable observation for today's scrimmage was that rookie Matt Hennessy was playing left guard with the first-team offense. Previously, Hennessy had been working mostly with the second-team offense in practice while James Carpenter and Matt Gono were splitting reps with the starters. While out there with the starters, Hennessy performed well. He held his own against players like Allen Bailey and Tyeler Davison, and the running backs had some big plays while running behind Hennessy. As for Carpenter and Gono, they were both working with the second-team offense for much of the scrimmage – Carpenter playing left guard and Gono playing left tackle. It's worth noting, however, that Carpenter was with the first-team offense during the two-minute drill, while Hennessy was next to Gono with the second-team offense. Big day for Brian Hill Although it was the defense that shined during the scrimmage, Brian Hill was a notable standout on offense. He single-handedly led the second-team offense during their lone scoring drive, carrying the ball three straight times, including a goal-line touchdown run. "I would say Brian came back in fantastic shape," Quinn said Thursday. "He is 100 percent a guy on a mission. You see his speed at practice, his ability to catch has certainly improved." Hill bounced his first carry of the drive out to the left end of the offensive line and broke contain, racing down the sideline for a huge pickup. This run alone put the offense inside the 10-yard line, and his next carry took them down to the 1-yard line. From there, he punched the ball in, showcasing his vision and power. The Falcons have a lot of depth at running back entering the fall, and players like Hill, Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison should each have roles on this offense. Hill has shown the ability in the past to break off some big runs, and Thursday was a reminder of how that can change a game. More camp observations Isaiah Oliver continues to perform well and was step-for-step down the left sideline with Calvin Ridley before breaking up a pass early in the scrimmage. Younghoe Koo made his lone extra-point attempt during the scrimmage, but he missed a 48-yard field goal, his one field-goal attempt of the afternoon. John Cominsky continues to show improvement as a run defender and was rotating in with the first-team defense at times during the scrimmage. Kurt Benkert was mostly given some short throws on rollouts during the scrimmage, but he made a couple of downfield throws on the run after avoiding some pressure in the pocket. The Falcons like the versatility and talent in their safety group. Julio Jones doesn't show any signs of slowing down, and he was the most effective offensive player for either side on Thursday. The Falcons had coaches standing in as refs during the scrimmage, and there were a lot of penalty flags thrown. Of course, now is the time for all of that to get corrected. Quinn has said he wants the team to run more outside-zone plays and marry that to their play-action passing game, and that approach was on display a lot in the scrimmage.
  4. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/dan-quinn-explains-falcons-plan-if-he-tests-positive-for-covid-19 As the world continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL teams must develop contingency plans for any conceivable scenario that could unfold. In terms of importance, a backup plan in case a team's head coach tests positive is right there near the top. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson are the only two head coaches to test positive thus far, but they show that it isn't just players who are at risk of contracting the virus. Dan Quinn and the Falcons have a plan in place if he were to test positive for COVID-19. During a press conference with local media on Friday, Quinn explained that assistant head coach and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich would assume his duties if he were to miss time and that senior defensive assistant Bob Sutton would also have a supporting role. "You have to talk about it, No. 1, and then even it can go down a lot of layers," Quinn said. "Jeff Ulbrich would be the one that would be able to take on that role, certainly. Bob Sutton would support him on some of the things needed from game management as well." Ulbrich has been praised by Quinn and others during his time as linebackers coach with the Falcons, and he's had a big role in developing players such as Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell. Last season, Ulbrich was given greater responsibilities amidst the Falcons' coaching shuffle at the bye week and had a hand in Atlanta's defensive turnaround during its 6-2 finish. Sutton has an extensive coaching history that spans nearly five decades, and he was added to the Falcons coaching staff in 2019 to help with game management. That would be the Falcons' primary contingency plan if Quinn were the only coach to test positive. As Quinn explained, however, there are countless situations that could occur, meaning the Falcons must have a plan in place for any conceivable possibility. "Each of them have a contingency, where you go into it," Quinn said. "What if it's multiple people? Those are the ones that you get into, because it was easy, I think, if it was one for one. And then what about if both Jeff and I [test positive]? Those are the ones where you double up."
  5. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/early-bird-report-todd-gurley-is-still-among-nfl-s-most-explosive-runners There's been a lot of talk this offseason about Todd Gurley’s health and how much the Falcons will be able to get out of the former All-Pro running back, but there are a few stats from last season that indicate he still has a bit left in the tank. Using advanced metrics, NFL.com writer Nick Shook ranked the 10 most explosive runners in the NFL last season. He used a variety of criteria for this list, looking at the total number of 10-plus-yard runs a player had, the percentage of his carries that went for 10 yards or more and the percentage of carries in which a player reached a speed of 15 miles per hour. Based on that data, Shook determined that Gurley was the eighth-most explosive runner in the league last season, even ranking ahead of Panthers star Christian McCaffrey. "Here's where the numbers are peculiar," Shook writes. "Even if we don't quite agree with this result (based on the recent events that saw Gurley fall out of favor in L.A.), Gurley does indeed meet the criteria to land on this list, which suggests that, even during his down year, he was still among the league's more explosive runners. Only one of Gurley's 10 fastest touches over the last two seasons came in 2019, yet he still managed to reach or exceed 15 mph on nearly 20 percent of his 223 attempts. His 21 runs of 10-plus yards show he can still gain significant yards, even if he hasn't been the home-run hitter he once was. Will we see him here again in 2020 as a member of the Falcons? Unlikely, but he's still got at least some juice, or he did in 2019." Shook seems a little reticent about Gurley's future upside, but the numbers indicate that the Falcons' newest running back still has enough burst to give defenses some headaches. Against Atlanta, defenses might not be able to stack the box consistently for fear of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley beating them outside. To see the rest of Shook's list, click here. Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today: CBSSports: Teams with five most difficult stretches We already know the Falcons have one of the toughest schedules in the league, and that includes one of the hardest stretches that any team will have to face in 2020. CBSSports write John Breech believes Atlanta's final three-game run, in which they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice with a trip to Kansas City sandwiched in between, is the second-hardest stretch that any team will have this season. "If the Falcons want to make the postseason in 2020, they better have a playoff berth wrapped up by the time Week 14 ends, because there's a good chance that things are going to get ugly for Atlanta starting right around that point," Breech writes. "Over the final three weeks of the season, the Falcons will be facing Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and then Tom Brady again. That's definitely a nightmare stretch for a team that struggled to stop the pass last year. The good news for the Falcons is that they've dominated the Buccaneers over the past few years, winning six of their past seven against Tampa. However, that streak came against Jameis Winston, who's not going to be around to hand the Falcons free wins, like he did in Week 17 last season when he threw an overtime pick-six that allowed Atlanta to win." That stretch could actually be widened a little bit, because the second half of the Falcons' schedule is no joke. With two games against the Saints, two against the Buccaneers and three AFC matchups, Atlanta will have to be playing its best football after the bye week. To see the rest of Breech's list of tough NFL stretches, click here. CBSSports: Ranking NFL offensive triplets With Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in place, the Atlanta Falcons already had elite options at two of the three key offensive skill positions. By signing Todd Gurley this offseason to take over for Devonta Freeman, the Falcons solidified the third part of that trio, and CBSSports writer Jared Dubin likes the group they've assembled. In a recent ranking of the NFL's best offensive trios – an area the Falcons have often ranked highly over the past several seasons – Atlanta was right up there near the top. The Falcons were tied for sixth with the Green Bay Packers, boasting an aggregate grade of 8.30. Dubin graded each piece of the offensive trio on a scale of 1-10, and he gave the quarterback a higher weight than the other two positions. Ryan earned an eight from Dubin, Gurley received a six and Jones received a perfect 10. Here's what Dubin had to say about the Falcons: "Ryan is remarkably durable, remarkably productive, and until last season, consistently above average across the board. He took a step backward last season, falling short of league averages in yards per attempt, touchdown rate, and passer rating, each for the first time since 2013. … "Gurley was just cut by the Rams, so even though he was slightly more effective last season than popular consensus would have you believe, we can't justify giving him too high a grade. Jones is arguably the best wideout in football, more efficient on a per-route basis than just about everybody in the league, just about every year. He's also now got 14 touchdowns across the past two seasons, so hopefully we can dispel with the silly notion that he simply cannot score." Atlanta doesn't just boast a formidable trio, offensively. Calvin Ridley has emerged as one of the top young receivers in the NFL in just two seasons, and the Falcons have high hopes that tight end Hayden Hurst can be an effective option for Ryan in his first season. To see the rest of Dubin's offensive trio rankings, click here. ESPN: FPI projections for NFL teams The 2020 football season is still a ways away, but there are enough known factors with each NFL team that predictions can start being pieced together. ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) is one such prediction model, and it has offered its predictions on which teams will make the postseason this year and how the standings will shake out. It does not place the Falcons in the former category, giving Atlanta just a 31-percent chance to reach the playoffs. ESPN's FPI ranks the Falcons No. 18 among the league's 32 teams and projects 7.5 wins for Atlanta. The model has two NFC South teams ranked in its top 10 – the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints are projected to reach 10.2 wins and have an 83-percent chance to reach the playoffs, while the Buccaneers have a 63-percent chance to play past the regular season and a projected to reach 9.1 wins. If Atlanta is going to buck the FPI projections, it will need to play well right out of the gate and finish strong in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. To see the rest of ESPN's projections, click here. NFL.com: NFL's top 10 deep passers As is the case with many aspects of his play, Matt Ryan doesn't get the credit he deserves for his ability to throw the ball downfield. Even a portion of Falcons fans like to criticize Ryan for, what they believe, is a weak arm. Well, the stats have a different story to tell. NFL.com writer Nick Shook, using Next Gen Stats, listed the 10 best deep passers from the 2019 season. The primary metric used in his piece is completion percentage above expectation, but there were several other factors weighed as well. In this particular ranking, Ryan measured out as the ninth-best deep passer in the league last season. "Welcome to the weeds. Some quarterbacks had higher passer ratings on deep passes, but the completion percentage above expectation still reigns supreme here, despite Ryan's negative TD-to-INT ratio. Look, it wasn't the best campaign for the Falcons, but Ryan still gave it his best, dropping six DIMES while throwing into tight windows on 34.5 percent of his deep attempts. That might have been what produced his five interceptions, of course, but the positive completion percentage means he was still more effective going deep than he wasn't, even when incomplete stats like interceptions tell a different story. Don't overlook his pressure percentage of 32.7, either." To see the rest of Shook's list, click here. CBSSports: 2020 QB tiers Ryan earned the first NFL MVP Award in franchise history after a stellar 2016 campaign, but he's played at a very similar level since that season. In fact, No quarterback in the league has topped Ryan's 18,429 passing yards since 2016, and his 119 touchdown passes are tied with Drew Brees for second most in that time, just behind Russell Wilson's 121. Ryan also has the most completions in the NFL since the 2016 season – 43 ahead of Brees, who is second in that metric – and he has the fifth-best completion percentage as well. Yet despite that sustained high level of play, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora does not believe Ryan is a "Bona Fide Franchise Quarterback." In his recent revisiting of NFL quarterback tiers, La Canfora has the following players listed as franchise quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz and Ben Roethlisberger. He has Ryan listed on the tier below in what he calls, "Top Pros, Proven Winners." "Ryan isn't getting any younger either, and the cast around him is not what it once was," La Canfora writes. "At his price point, Ryan just sneaks into the top-10." It's hard to understand what role money plays in La Canfora's reasoning, but that can be set aside. There's no arguing with probably half of his top-tier group, but the inclusions of Watson, Wentz and Roethlisberger at this point raise some eyebrows. Watson is undoubtedly a good player, but he's yet to put together the type of statistical resume or on-field success that Ryan has. Wentz looked well on his way to an MVP season of his own in 2017, but he's yet to regain that level of play due to injury. And Roethlisberger's best days are far behind him, and he missed most of last year with an injury of his own. That Ryan is considered a cut below those players is a bit of a head-scratcher. Then again, La Canfora did have Cam Newton as a franchise quarterback in every edition of this list, dating back to 2016, prior to this recent edition. He has never, by the way, included Ryan in that top group – even the year after Ryan's MVP season. You have to wonder if something else is in play here. To see the rest of La Canfora's quarterback tiers and how it all shakes out, click here. NFL.com: Most underappreciated players in NFC During his time with the Falcons, Grady Jarrett has developed into one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. He was finally rewarded for his play in 2019 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and Jarrett's future looks bright. Falcons fans don't need any explanation of just how good Jarrett is on a snap-by-snap basis, but he still isn't often in the same national conversation as some other top defensive tackles like Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox. Perhaps that's why NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund named Jarrett as the most underappreciated player on the Falcons' roster. "Jarrett's ability to stop the run made him an extremely efficient member of the Falcons' defense, as he tied for the NFL lead with 20 run stuffs last season (per Next Gen Stats)," Frelund writes. "My spatial models show that his ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks ranked fifth (in pressure-rate percentage) among interior defenders." Now an important leader both on and off the field for the Falcons, Jarrett will need to play a vital role for the defense if Atlanta is to make another trip to the postseason in 2020. To see the rest of the NFC players who Frelund believes are underrated, click here.
  6. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/dirk-koetter-on-russell-gage-i-think-we-will-see-a-jump-in-his-game The Atlanta Falcons traded trusted veteran slot receiver Mohamed Sanu in late October of the 2019 season opening up a path for second-year receiver Russell Gage to emerge as one of the pleasant surprises of the year. Showcasing some polished route-running and impressive speed, Gage made some tough catches last season when the opportunities arose. That experience should greatly benefit him heading into his third year with Atlanta, and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter thinks Gage's best football is ahead of him. "I think Russ is very very talented, and I think we will see a jump in his game," Koetter said. Gage started four of the final six games of the season, and he saw a drastic uptick in production during the nine games after Sanu was traded. Prior to Sanu's trade to the New England Patriots, Gage saw just eight targets and caught four passes for 44 yards. Gage topped each of those marks in just the Falcons' first game without Sanu, snagging seven balls for 58 yards on nine targets. Over the final nine games of the Falcons' season – when Atlanta went 6-3 – Gage was targeted 66 times and caught 45 passes for 402 yards and a touchdown. He finished the year with four 50-plus-yard games and caught at least five passes in six games. "When Russ got more opportunities, his talent started to show up," Koetter said. "I think part of it is his confidence grew, and as his confidence grew he got better. Just for any player that goes from a role player to at least a part-time starter, I think consistency is the next phase." That Gage blossomed so quickly as a receiver in 2019 is quite impressive, given his past production at LSU and in his rookie season. Gage finished his college career with just 347 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 26 catches; he did not have any receiving stats during his first two years at LSU. In fact, he had nearly as many rushing yards (232) as he did receiving yards (285) during his senior season. The Falcons used Gage sparingly as a receiver in his first season as well, and he caught just six passes, mostly on shorter routes. Instead, he became a standout on Atlanta's special teams coverage units. But Gage's emergence in his second season indicates there's much more potential as a receiver for the team to tap into. Since the Falcons signed former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell in free agency, there have been some who have penciled him in as the team's de-facto third receiver. Despite his high draft status, Gage appears to be the player who offers more upside and has built chemistry with Ryan. In none of his four season with the Vikings did Treadwell match the production Gage showed during the second half of 2019. Gage's skillset also translates nicely to the slot position, where the Falcons will need someone to replace Sanu over the long term. During his audition, Gage showed everything he needed to get the first crack at that job and impressed head coach Dan Quinn in the process. "I thought [Russell] Gage was another one that could play in the slot and be effective, and you saw the production that took place into that one," Quinn said. In just two NFL seasons, Gage has shown immense growth. With even more opportunities potentially in line for him next year, it's very possible that we see him take his gam
  7. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/why-the-lsu-game-endeared-a-j-terrell-to-raheem-morris-the-most One game shouldn't overshadow an entire career, but A.J. Terrell's performance against Ja'Marr Chase in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game had a massive impact on the public's perception of him. It also had a pretty big impact on Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, who knows a thing or two about coaching cornerbacks at the highest level. But while public opinion soured on Terrell because of his play against LSU, Morris came away with an entirely different reaction. "The things that people didn't like about him was his LSU game that he got beat on a couple of times, but that was what made me like him probably the most," Morris told AtlantaFalcons.com. "In that game, I saw a guy go out there and challenge a guy. Get beat, not be afraid, make a play. Get beat, not be afraid, make a play." It's true that Terrell did get beaten by Chase, who finished his sophomore season with 84 catches for an NCAA-best 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, in the title game, but practically everyone did in 2019. A mere glance at Chase's stat line from that game – nine catches, 221 yards, two touchdowns – might leave Falcons fans anxious, but there are two important things missing from those raw numbers. The first, Clemson had so much faith in their top corner that they tasked Terrell with shadowing Chase around the field and often asked him to cover him one-on-one. Seeing how Terrell didn't back down from that challenge and seemed to relish it gave Morris even more belief in the player he can become. "That's kind of our game, that's kind of the life we live, especially when you live at corner," Morris said. "People call it an island, but when you have the ability to go out there and play in a big-time game and be competitive that way and not be afraid to lose sometimes, which is going to happen, to be able to come back that next play to really make a play, those are the kind of guys that I love." The second aspect of Terrell's performance against LSU that's important to consider is that he played much better than the stat line reflects. Terrell was in position to make a handful of plays against the nation's leading receiver, who also benefitted from having Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow throwing him the football. On a couple of occasions, Terrell was in the right place at the right time only to have a Burrow dime make the difference. When you're playing in the title game, that's how life is sometimes. However, that performance doesn't change what the Falcons like about their newest first-round corner, namely: his speed, length and competitive attitude. It's not as though Terrell hasn't proven he can play against top competition, either. If he had ended his college career after returning an interception for a touchdown against Alabama in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Terrell would have been riding high heading into draft season. Instead, he enters the NFL coming off that LSU performance, but it might work out in the Falcons' favor. Terrell now has a chip on his shoulder that will motivate him to prove he's more than one game. "You know, I always carry a chip on my shoulder, but that one game definitely gave me a chip on my shoulder," Terrell said after the draft. "… For me, that game was definitely a learning experience of just never being satisfied. I'm just ready to get back to work, get back in the lab." That's the kind of mindset Morris can't wait to work with.
  8. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/how-each-falcons-2020-opponent-fared-offensively-defensively-in-2019 The Atlanta Falcons face one of the hardest schedules in 2020, regardless of how you measure it. Whether basing strength of schedule on last year's win totals or Vegas win projections for 2020, the Falcons will be going up against a high level of talent in the fall. Now that the order of the Falcons' schedule has been revealed, let's take a closer look at the offensive and defensive talent they will face each week. Week 1 vs Seattle Seahawks (2019 record: 11-5) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 8 total (374.4 yds/game), No. 9 scoring (25.3 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 26 total (381.6 yds/game), No. 23 scoring (24.9 pts/game) Led by quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks had more of an offensive identity in 2019. Wilson didn't have to shoulder the load by himself, however, as Chris Carson led a ground game that ranked fourth in rushing yards per game. Defensively, Seattle wasn't as stout as it's been in years past, but the Seahawks forced 32 turnovers, which were the third-most in the NFL. Week 2 at Dallas Cowboys (2019 record: 8-8) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 1 total (431.5 yds/game), No. 6 scoring (27.1 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 9 total (327 yds/game), No. 11 scoring (20.1 pts/game) The Cowboys had a top-10 offense and defense in 2019, but they didn't perform well enough to save Jason Garrett's job. Now, Mike McCarthy takes over in Dallas and has a ton of talent to work with. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore adds first-round draft pick CeeDee Lamb to an offense that features weapons all over the place. Defensively, Mike Nolan will replace Rod Marinelli to try to get the most out of a relatively young unit. Week 3 vs Chicago Bears (2019 record: 8-8) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 29 total (296.8 yds/game), No. 29 scoring (17.5 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 8 total (324.1 yds/game), No. 4 scoring (18.6 pts/game) Bears head coach Matt Nagy is known for his offensive background, but the Bears have been a defense-oriented team during his tenure. Chicago acquired Nick Foles this offseason to compete with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback, and the team has loaded up at the tight end position. Khalil Mack, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, leads a defense loaded with playmakers. Week 4 at Green Bay Packers (2019 record: 13-3) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 18 total (345.5 yds/game), No. 15 scoring (23.5 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 18 total (352.6 yds/game), No. 9 scoring (19.6 pts/game) In Matt LaFleur's first season, the Packers reached the NFC Championship Game despite not having elite production in most offensive or defensive stats. Green Bay was 8-1 in one-score games last season, aided by the third-best turnover differential in the league. Aaron Rodgers leads an offense that is thin at receiver, and the Packers curiously spent their first-round pick on quarterback Jordan Love. Green Bay's defense is led by a quality secondary and a talented defensive line. Weeks 5 & 8 at/vs Carolina Panthers (2019 record: 5-11) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 19 total (341.8 yds/game), No. 18 scoring (21.3 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 23 total (374.5 yds/game), No. 31 scoring (29.4 pts/game) The Panthers are undoubtedly a team in transition. Gone are coach Ron Rivera, quarterback Cam Newton and star linebacker Luke Kuechly. Matt Rhule is taking over for his first NFL head coaching job, and he added Joe Brady, who helped orchestrate LSU's 2019 national title-winning season. Carolina also signed Teddy Bridgewater to take over at quarterback and it gave running back Christian McCaffrey a lucrative extension. The Panthers used every one of their draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, trying to plug a number of holes. Week 6 at Minnesota Vikings (2019 record: 10-6) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 16 total (353.5 yds/game), No. 8 scoring (25.4 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 14 total (341.6 yds/game), No. 6 scoring (18.9 pts/game) Minnesota earned double-digit wins with one of the league's top scoring offensive and defensive units. Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski left to become head coach in Cleveland, but Gary Kubiak will take over that role and the offensive scheme will remain the same. Defensive coordinator George Edwards also departed this offseason. The Vikings have one of the NFL's most talented rosters with playmakers on offense and defense. They forced the fourth-most turnovers in the league in 2019 and also recorded the fifth-most sacks. Minnesota drafted Justin Jefferson in an attempt to replace Stefon Diggs' production and Jeff Gladney to bolster a cornerback group that had some key departures. Week 7 vs Detroit Lions (2019 record: 3-12-1) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 17 total (346.8 yds/game), No. 19 scoring (21.3 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 31 total (400.4 yds/game), No. 26 scoring (26.4 pts/game) The Lions had one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season, but they've made several offseason moves to attempt to correct that, including signing former Falcons corner Desmond Trufant. Detroit also signed linebacker Jaime Collins and drafted cornerback Jeff Okudah, who figures to replace top corner Darius Slay. Offensively, the team has weapons and drafted D'Andre Swift to add to their backfield. The health of quarterback Matthew Stafford is ultimately the most important thing for the Lions, however. Week 9 vs Denver Broncos (2019 record: 7-9) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 28 total (298.6 yds/game), No. 28 scoring (17.6 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 12 total (337 yds/game), No. 10 scoring (19.8 pts/game) In Vic Fangio's first season, the Broncos took a step forward defensively and a step back on offense. Denver appears to be confident in Drew Lock as its quarterback of the future as it took steps to upgrade its offensive line in free agency and drafted a number of receivers, including former Alabama star Jerry Jeudy, to join Courtland Sutton. The Broncos also added former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon in free agency and trade for cornerback A.J. Bouye. Weeks 11 & 13 at/vs New Orleans Saints (2019 record: 13-3) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 9 total (373.9 yds/game), No. 3 scoring (28.6 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 11 total (333.1 yds/game), No. 13 scoring (21.3 pts/game) New Orleans has been one of the top teams in the NFL over the past few seasons. The Saints were second in turnover differential in 2019 with a plus-15 difference, which helped them finish the year with the third-best time of possession on offense. New Orleans had 51 sacks last season and allowed only 25, both of which were the third-best marks in the NFL. With Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas leading the way on offense and Cameron Jordan, Malcolm Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore on defense, the Saints are in good shape once again. Week 12 vs Las Vegas Raiders (2019 record: 7-9) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 11 total (363.7 yds/game), No. 24 scoring (19.6 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 19 total (354.8 yds/game), No. 24 scoring (26.2 pts/game) Rookie running back Josh Jacobs was one of the league's top first-year players last season, and he became the focal point of the Raiders' offense. Las Vegas signed Marcus Mariota and it remains to be seen what the dynamic at quarterback will be with David Carr still on the roster. The Raiders added some serious speed at receiver by drafting Henry Ruggs in the first round, and they added to their defense by using another first-round pick on cornerback Damon Arnette. Week 14 at Los Angeles Chargers (2019 record: 5-11) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 10 total (367.4 yds/game), No. 21 scoring (21.1 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 6 total (313.1 yds/game), No. 14 scoring (21.6 pts/game) Despite losing star defensive playmaker Derwin James for the first 11 games of the season, the Chargers fielded one of the better defenses in the league, and they added Kenneth Murray, one of the top linebackers in this year's draft. Pass rusher Joey Bosa is becoming one of the league's top defensive ends but didn't have much help as Los Angeles had just 30 sacks in 2019. Offensively, the team parted ways with longtime quarterback Phillip Rivers and now have Tyrod Taylor and rookie Justin Herbert there at the position. Also gone is running back Melvin Gordon, although the Chargers drafted Josh Kelley to pair with Austin Ekeler in the backfield. Weeks 15 & 17 vs/at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019 record: 7-9) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 3 total (397.9 yds/game), No. 3 scoring (28.6 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 15 total (343.9 yds/game), No. 29 scoring (28.1 pts/game) Don't let the raw defensive stats fool you, the Buccaneers were absolutely playing like one of the league's best defenses by the end of last season. Tampa Bay ranked fifth in defensive DVOA last season after finishing dead last in the same metric in 2018. Of course, the additions to the offense with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs can't be overlooked, and Bruce Arians always knows how to get the most out of his offenses. But a defense that is no longer put into bad situations by Jameis Winston might be the most dangerous thing about the Bucs in 2020. Week 16 at Kansas City Chiefs (2019 record: 12-4) 2019 offensive ranks: No. 6 total (379.2 yds/game), No. 5 scoring (28.2 pts/game) 2019 defensive ranks: No. 17 total (349.6 yds/game), No. 7 scoring (19.3 pts/game) Failing to repeat as the league's top offense in 2019 did not stop the Chiefs from earning the Lombardi Trophy. Kansas City was a better overall team last season with its improvements on defense, and Patrick Mahomes continues to make his case for being the best quarterback in the NFL. The Chiefs are absolutely loaded on offense and were the best unit on third downs in the league last season. They've now added former LSU star Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the mix, giving them a true No. 1 running back. No team is as equipped to win in a shootout, but the Chiefs proved last year that they don't always have to. Final Analysis: Given the caliber of team the Falcons will face next season they will need to maximize the talent on their roster, particularly on offense, to keep pace. Atlanta has played its best ball late in the season under Dan Quinn, and it has the second-best winning percentage over the final four games of each season since his arrival. That will need to continue to be the case in 2020, as the back part of the schedule figures to be the hardest.
  9. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/marlon-davidson-s-versatility-makes-him-a-perfect-fit-with-falcons The Atlanta Falcons sought to improve their pass rush and interior defensive line depth in this year's NFL Draft, and they did both by drafting one single player. Former Auburn defensive lineman Marlon Davidson is one of the most unique players entering the NFL. The 6-foot-3, 303-pound Davidson played defensive end for the Tigers, despite his size, and was also sturdy enough to shift over to defensive tackle. Even while he was out on the edge, Davidson played the game like a penetrating defensive tackle, which is the role the Falcons envision for him in Atlanta. "He's been a defensive end," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "He's been stand up and down. We're going to try to feature him over the defensive tackle spots, at the guards, as often as you can. With a guy with that versatile, we're going to try to partner him up inside as often as we can." Saying that Davidson played like a defensive tackle on the edge is by no means a slight. He possesses surprising athleticism and explosiveness that allowed him to get around opposing tackles quicker than they expected. Davidson also has jarring flexibility for someone his size. It's his play strength and ability to set the edge that earn him those comparisons. The Falcons struggled at times last season to dictate the edge against opponents, most notably in the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, but that shouldn't be the case if they do task Davidson with playing defensive end at times. That inside-outside versatility is exactly what makes a player like Davidson attractive to Atlanta, which has valued that type of dual ability in players like Jack Crawford and Allen Bailey. Although Quinn has stated they would like to play Davidson primarily at defensive tackle and allow him to compete against opposing guards instead of tackles, it would not be surprising to see the Falcons shift him outside on early downs. Atlanta re-signed defensive tackle Tyeler Davison this offseason, who was arguably the team's top run defender on the defensive line in 2019. It would make sense for the Falcons to want to keep him on the field in running situations while also utilizing Davidson's size on the edge. It's in passing scenarios that shifting Davidson inside makes the most sense. Grady Jarrett, who was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2019, is one of the top pass-rushing defensive tackles in the league despite not consistently having a fellow interior pass rusher that teams have to worry about. Nobody yet knows if that's what Davidson can become in the NFL, but the tools are there. As a bonus, Davidson's experience rushing off the edge should make him an effective player to use on stunts, which the Falcons like to do with their defensive line. Davidson ran the 40-yard dash in 5.04 seconds, and he isn't a speed rusher. That won't matter on the interior, however. What will matter is his technique, and he displayed good hand usage throughout his college career to help him win in pass-rush situations. A four-year starter at Auburn, Davidson improved with each successive year. As a senior, he recorded 48 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks; he finished his career at Auburn with 14.5 sacks. Jarrett is incredibly proficient with his technique, and he'll certainly provide Davidson with a great mentor early in his NFL career. However, the most impressive thing about Davidson has absolutely nothing to do with his skills on the football field – It's his unshakable self-confidence. "I knew when they pulled me out of the womb I was destined for greatness," Davidson said after he was drafted. "I'm 100 percent Marlon Davidson. I'm 100 percent proud of Marlon Davidson. I'm the best. I'm going to continue to be the best. Whenever you see Marlon Davidson come up in the spot, man, know he's one of those type of guys. You know he's coming here to bring havoc." Davidson growth while at Auburn is a testament to his commitment to back up the talk. He has an infectious personality that should be welcome in the Falcons' locker room. He was a team captain as a senior in college, and it might not be too long before he emerges as a leader in Atlanta.
  10. CB Kendall Sheffield reminds me of Panthers CB Donte Jackson in that both of them are track stars who happens to play football. Both uses their speed to stay in the hip pocket of the receiver they are covering. Jackson went in the 2nd round of last year draft and I believe Sheffield would have gone anywhere from the 2nd to the 3rd if he didn't injury himself at the combine. This is what was said about Jackson pre-draft.
  11. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/cowboys-kris-richard-seahawks-bobby-wagner-among-those-heaping-praise-on-dan-qui ORLANDO, Fla. – To those he worked with prior to his arrival in Atlanta, Dan Quinn is more than just a football coach. He’s a leader, a teacher and someone who respects those around him enough to let them inform his decision making. Those who have spent time working with him still hold Quinn in high regard, as was apparent during this year’s Pro Bowl. Generally, when a member of the media approaches a player or a coach he or she is met with a cautious façade. But at the mention of Quinn’s name, a smile crept across the faces of Bobby Wagner, Kris Richard and Gus Bradley. That cautious façade replaced by a willingness to talk about a man they respect. “He was amazing, man,” said Wagner, a linebacker with the Seattle Seahawks who played for Quinn in 2013 and 2014. “I loved working with him. Every second. He’s so smart. “The way he approached the game, the way he prepared, it was inspiring. It made you want to watch more film and make sure you were doing your job, because you knew he was doing his work. He’s a great leader and a great person. Just a good dude to be around.” Quinn spent two seasons as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, helping the team reach back-to-back Super Bowls and establishing the Legion of Boom, one of the best defenses in modern NFL history. After spending the past four seasons as the Falcons’ head coach, Quinn will once again take charge of the defensive coordinator role in Atlanta. “I think my background in the scheme of what we do and the style exactly like I want to do it,” Quinn said of his decision to take over the defensive play-calling. “I like doing it. I've done it before both as a defensive coordinator and as a head coach some. I just thought that was the best way for us moving forward, and something I'm looking forward to.” Injuries played a key role in what was ultimately a lackluster and disappointing season for a Falcons defense that appeared to be trending upward after a strong finish in 2017. But Quinn’s decision, as he explained it, seemed to be more about a desire to get his style of defense back to exactly where he wants it rather than an indictment of former defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel’s ability in that role. Quinn’s ability to identify and develop a very specific style of play on defense is a strong suite of his, according to those who have worked with him. So too is his ability to communicate that style in an effective way that makes it clear to Quinn’s players exactly what their role is in the defense. “He has a vision of what it should look like and then he does a great job of illustrating that to the players, so it is very clear,” Bradley said of Quinn, who served as the Seahawks’ defensive line coach in 2009 and 2010 while Bradley (shown below) was defensive coordinator. He is a tremendous leader and has great understanding of the defense as a whole.” Falcons fans saw a glimpse of the type of impact Quinn can have when taking a greater role in the defense. During the second-half of Atlanta’s 2016 Super Bowl run, Quinn took over the defensive play-calling and had a defense with four rookie starters peaking at just the right time. The defense surrendered an average of 28 points and 386 yards prior to Quinn taking over and gave up just 20.5 points and 346 yards per game during the rest of the regular season. But while Quinn has a proven track record and a clear vision for how he wants his defense to play, he isn’t a rigid leader who dictates terms to those who work for him. Richard, the Dallas Cowboys defensive backs coach who worked under Quinn in the same capacity for the Seahawks before replacing him as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, remembers how empowering his former leader was. “What’s really special about him is that he utilizes the people around him, and he trusts them to give him the information that he needs,” Richard said. “He recognizes that he’s not in there and it’s not him solely trying to get everything done, it’s a collective effort. And that empowers everyone around him, which in turn, gives him great authority. “That’s so valuable from a leadership standpoint because he’s grooming you, whether you realize it or not. So, he’s putting that trust in everyone around him and in turn everyone around him trusts him to be accurate, and he is.” Relying on help from his assistants, Quinn will seek to realign the Falcons’ defense with the exact style he expects. Quinn discussed constantly throughout the 2018 season his desire to see the team create more turnovers, generate increased pressure on opposing quarterbacks and get off the field on third downs and in the red zone. He will have the ability to have a direct impact on those desires not only in practice but on Sundays moving forward. While the intricacies of defensive play-calling may not be talked about as often as those on offense in this era of high-scoring football, each defensive coordinator has a unique fingerprint. “For us, the defenses always remained the same,” Wagner said of the Seahawks’ defensive scheme. “The difference is there are certain plays that Gus liked to run more than DQ, and coach Richard liked to run more than DQ. It’s just like that vibe. [Quinn] prefers certain fronts more and he prefers certain things more. He blitzed a little bit more, so I loved that. He was really good at scheming the team.” As a head coach and a defensive coordinator, Quinn will have more on his plate than ever before. But this is a scheme that Quinn understands in its entirety and utilized to unassailable success while in Seattle. There will likely be some adjustments to Quinn’s approach during the week, but any NFL head coach is already involved in every aspect of the team anyway. Quinn won’t just be involved with the defense in Atlanta now, however. He’s taking ownership of it. “I think as a defensive coordinator if you know the front, linebackers and the coverage, that’s so important,” Bradley said. “I think that’s what he did when he was at Seattle, he could bring those three together. “For Dan, he’s been so involved from Day 1 that I think it will be a real smooth transition for him.”
  12. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/falcons-rookie-foye-oluokun-has-one-mission-entering-his-first-preseason-game FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – When Falcons rookie linebacker Foyesade Oluokun steps onto the field at MetLife Stadium on Friday night for Atlanta’s first preseason game against the New York Jets, he will have one goal in mind. “To show how much I’ve improved since I’ve gotten here,” Oluokun said. “And to go against another team will be nice, because we get to go full-out, tackles and everything. I’m excited for it. I think I’ll keep a level head, I don’t think the lights or whatever will get to me. I’m pretty level-headed when I get to big stages. I’m just going out there to prove to myself that I’ve improved and play my game and show what I know now.” Like all Falcons rookies, Oluokun will get his first taste of live NFL action on Friday night. A sixth-round draft pick in April’s NFL Draft, Oluokun has quickly had to transition to a new position with the Falcons. After spending much of his career at Yale playing safety, Oluokun is now learning how to play linebacker and the knowledge he’s gained thus far will be put to the test against the Jets. Although the doesn’t have experience playing a true linebacker position, it’s understandable why the Falcons, who desire speed at the position, would envision Oluokun in that role. “I think they knew about my athleticism,” Oluokun said of why the Falcons drafted him. “First and foremost, they believed in me to be able to compete with all of these guys here. My coaches must have told them I was a hard worker and just willing to do anything to get myself to where I need to be. The [draft-day] phone call was all about, ‘Enjoy it right now, but get ready to work immediately.’” Hybrid players are more common in the NFL today than they were a decade ago. Players like Deion Jones and Grady Jarrett, who were considered undersized at their respective positions coming out of college have now become part of a new-prototype at linebacker and defensive tackle, respectively. Given Oluokun’s size – 6-foot-2, 215 pounds – and his speed – he ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day – he appears to have the tools needed to succeed as a linebacker in a league that has become pass-oriented. Before he has success, however, he has to prove he can handle the new responsibilities that come with his new position. “I guess seeing formations is something linebackers have to do but coming from safety you can anticipate motions really well,” Oluokun said of his position change. “There are a lot of calls that come off of motions, so lining up is a big part of being a linebacker. If you’re expecting someone to motion and you have a different alignment off of that motion, it’s really advantageous if you can kind of expect or know where that’s going to come from. “What I’ve had to learn, we’re still working on it, is just how to move inside the box. At safety, I’ve got a lot of space I can work with. As long as I can get to my position I can kind of anticipate where the running back is going to go. At linebacker you kind of have to be on the prowl the whole time and move swiftly into your gap while staying low. I’m working on that still, but it’s coming along.” It will take more than just flashing as a linebacker in the preseason, though. Like most of the Falcons’ rookies, Oluokun will be asked to perform on special teams as well. Given the changes to the kickoff rules the NFL made this offseason, we may see more teams employing linebackers, tight ends and fullbacks in that aspect of the game than in years past. If that is indeed the case, head coach Dan Quinn will certainly be looking to see which players can step up and claim that role. “Can some of these guys make an impact on special team,” Quinn asked of his new defensive players after Wednesday’s practice. “Guys like Foye, who’s going to have that kind of role. (Emmanuel) Smith, (Emmanuel) Ellerbee and that group. Those are a handful to keep an eye on for the first game.” Coming from the Ivy League, Oluokun says he’s definitely noticed an increase in the level of talent around him. But instead of allowing himself to be intimidated by that, he says it’s forced him to pick up his level of play as well. He’s had some help along the way thus far from a linebacker room that he describes as “the perfect environment for a young guy,” but he will have to continue to absorb their knowledge and showcase his skills on the field to earn a role with this team. In training camp, Oluokun was often among the first players to rotate in at linebacker and he received reps with several of the starters on defense at various points. Oluokun was listed as a second-team linebacker on the Falcons’ first preseason depth chart behind De’Vondre Campbell, Atlanta’s starting SAM linebacker. With his first NFL preseason game quickly approaching, Oluokun appears to be focused on just one thing – the same focus he’s had since he joined the Falcons. “As soon as I came here I was just ready to improve myself,” Oluokun said. “I feel like I had to prove to myself – the coaches believed in me – that I belonged here. It’s been my mission to get better and better every day. That’s my focus: come in and improve myself and in time I’ll be where I need to be.
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