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Still adjusting to the NFL game, Falcons’ Oliver could start against Redskins


Goober Pyle
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Isaiah Oliver has had his share of rookie learning moments. Earlier this season against Pittsburgh, Oliver subbed in for the briefly injured Desmond Trufant and was tasked with defending Antonio Brown. Brown did his best to separate on an out route to the short corner of the end zone, with Oliver staying stride for stride with one of the NFL’s best receivers.

Oliver was able to get an arm up and knock the football away for an incomplete pass.

Two plays later, Oliver wasn’t so fortunate. The Steelers went back to the same play, with Brown separating and hauling in a touchdown. It was obviously tough for Atlanta in the moment, considering it was a score that went toward a blowout Steelers victory. In terms of the bigger picture, however, those types of mishaps ultimately can help improve young players over time.

A second-round pick out of Colorado, Oliver has the ideal length — 6-foot with a wingspan of almost 7 feet — to succeed at his position professionally. But as he learns the nuances of the NFL, he has learned he will take his lumps like everyone before him did.

“It’s really more so adjusting to the game,” Oliver said. “It’s just so much different than college is, whether it’s the speed of the game or even the concepts and schemes we play here. It’s different than what I’ve ever played for.”

Early on, safety Damontae Kazee noticed that Oliver didn’t like getting beat. That wasn’t something Oliver was used to at Colorado. Like most college stars, each week Oliver was going against players he was better than (0nly one Pac-12 receiver (Dante Pettis, San Francisco) was selected ahead of Oliver in the 2018 NFL draft). More often than not, the Buffaloes held an advantage when Oliver lined up against an opposing receiver.

In the NFL, that’s not always the case.

“When he first got here I’d tell him, ‘It’s not all right to give up a play, but everyone gets beat. Everyone gets scored on,’ ” Kazee said. “He’s got that young mind, like he’d get mad. But he’s a great player, a great friend. I love Oliver.”

Oliver mostly has played a reserve role this season, outside of Atlanta’s game against Cincinnati, which saw him get 63 snaps. In that game, Oliver played a lot at cornerback, with Brian Poole seeing time at safety. It was late in that game, however, when Oliver did not drop back far enough into a Cover 2 zone, which allowed Andy Dalton to find A.J. Green for the game-winning touchdown.

After the game, Oliver owned up to play and pledged to learn from the mistake. That mentality has continued each week since.

“There are a lot of things you have to learn about the game of football,” Oliver said. “I feel like I had a lot of opportunities to learn a lot of things from the older guys. That’s something that has been very helpful for me.”

Oliver could be in line for a lot of playing time Sunday against Washington if cornerback Robert Alford is unable to suit up. Alford has been nursing an ankle injury suffered against the New York Giants two weeks ago, and while Alford was able to finish that game, his ankle has remained sore to the point that he was unable to practice Wednesday or Thursday.

Instead, head coach Dan Quinn said Alford has been working off to the side with a team trainer but has not been ruled out of the  game Sunday against Washington just yet.

“We’re going to try to give him as much as time as we can to see how strong we can get it,” Quinn said. “He did a good job attacking it during the bye to get it strong. But (Wednesday) it wasn’t ready yet. We’ll take it over the next 48 hours and have a better assessment — two-and-a-half days really.”

If Alford is unable to play, Oliver will start at cornerback in his place. Quinn said he has taken notice of Oliver’s development, particularly in situations where corners are asked to press and jam receivers.  

“What I’ve seen from him is just the discipline at the line of scrimmage,” Quinn said. “That part is really improving. The way we want to play our corners — right down and challenge guys at the line of scrimmage. I think he’s certainly improving in that area quite a bit. It suits his skillset, as well. We’re going to keep drilling him in that way.”

The early experience, even in moments when he may have lost his individual matchup, have helped prepare Oliver for what could be his second career start with the Falcons. Time will soon tell if Oliver will get another shot at extended playing time. 

“It prepares you a lot, getting those reps early in the year, however many there are, whenever they are,” Oliver said. “They’re always going to help you for the future. You can’t really determine how much you’re going to play, but every rep is going to help you.”

Bryant may have tested leg but not during practice

Quinn said he would have a further update on place-kicker Matt Bryant after seeing him test his injured right hamstring Thursday.

Well, the kicks Bryant was scheduled to take did not occur during Atlanta’s regularly scheduled practice session. Bryant, who injured his right hamstring three weeks ago against Tampa Bay, was listed as a non-participant in practice Thursday. If Bryant did get some field-goal practice in, it didn’t come during the allotted time for practice.

Thursday is the day of the week Bryant generally gets the majority of his kicks in. Special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong said Bryant was with a trainer during practice and that he is unsure what kind of work Bryant was able to put in.

If Bryant is unable to play, the Falcons will once again go with Giorgio Tavecchio, who hit field goals from 40, 50 and 56 yards in Atlanta’s victory over the Giants.

In addition to Bryant and Alford, receiver Mohamed Sanu (hip) did not practice Thursday. Sanu injured his hip against Tampa Bay but was able to play against the Giants.

 

 

 

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Part of me is scared to have him out there but part of me thinks this kid could be special if brought along the right way.   When he gets it right, he is so smooth and effortless; you can see the talent he has but I also see parts of his game that were not NFL ready when we've seen him.  Oh well same was true of Jalen but when Tru went down, he was like pretty dang good in spite of looking rough in action earlier that year.

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Just now, Monolith2001 said:

Part of me is scared to have him out there but part of me thinks this kid could be special if brought along the right way.   When he gets it right, he is so smooth and effortless; you can see the talent he has but I also see parts of his game that were not NFL ready when we've seen him.  Oh well same was true of Jalen but when Tru went down, he was like pretty dang good in spite of looking rough in action earlier that year.

If  Ju-Ju/AB, Hopkins/BayBay, etc.....were the WR matchups, I would be more concerned. Not saying that I wouldn't be concerned regardless with the regulars. Young mans gotta find his place one way or the other

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Get ready for some little known Redskins WR to have a big game. 

I'm not convinced with Oliver. He's got a long way to go. He already directly costed us one game. As a matter of fact we have had very poor returns on our 2nd picks 4 out of the last 5 years so far. 

2014 - Rashede Hageman (Out of the NFL)

2015 - Jalen Collins (Out of the NFL)

2016 - Deion Jones (Walk Off Home Run)

2017 - Duke Riley (On his way Out of the NFL)

2018 - Isaiah Oliver (Hasn't shown much)

It's unfortunate for us that we keep striking out with early round picks but seem to find a gem every year in the late rounds. Maybe we should switch our strategy for scouting 2nd rounders.

Edited by MD-FalconFan13
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8 minutes ago, MD-FalconFan13 said:

Get ready for some little known Redskins WR to have a big game. 

I'm not convinced with Oliver. He's got a long way to go. He already directly costed us one game. As a matter of fact we have had very poor returns on our 2nd round picks 4 out of the last 5 years so far. 

2014 - Rashede Hageman (Out of the NFL)

2015 - Jalen Collins (Out of the NFL)

2016 - Deion Jones (Walk Off Home Run)

2017 - Duke Riley (On his way Out of the NFL)

2018 - Isaiah Oliver (Hasn't shown much)

It's unfortunate for us that we keep striking out with early round picks but seem to find a gem every year in the late rounds. Maybe we should switch our strategy for scouting 2nd rounders.

Duke Riley was a 3rd round selection. Pick 75

To early to grade Oliver.

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3 hours ago, MD-FalconFan13 said:

Get ready for some little known Redskins WR to have a big game. 

I'm not convinced with Oliver. He's got a long way to go. He already directly costed us one game. As a matter of fact we have had very poor returns on our 2nd picks 4 out of the last 5 years so far. 

2014 - Rashede Hageman (Out of the NFL)

2015 - Jalen Collins (Out of the NFL)

2016 - Deion Jones (Walk Off Home Run)

2017 - Duke Riley (On his way Out of the NFL)

2018 - Isaiah Oliver (Hasn't shown much)

It's unfortunate for us that we keep striking out with early round picks but seem to find a gem every year in the late rounds. Maybe we should switch our strategy for scouting 2nd rounders.

 

3 hours ago, Kung Fu Kenny said:

Duke Riley was a 3rd round selection. Pick 75

To early to grade Oliver.

FIFY

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1 hour ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

Dude's played 89 snaps......3/4 of which came in one game. 

He gave up a game-winning TD against a HOF-level WR. 

People really need to start working on their perspective

Sure if you're talking long term.

Chances are he's starting this weekend.

He's not ready to start and if the defense was healthy they might be able to mask it or if they had a better pass rush but they don't.

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6 minutes ago, Sun Tzu 7 said:

Sure if you're talking long term.

Chances are he's starting this weekend.

He's not ready to start and if the defense was healthy they might be able to mask it or if they had a better pass rush but they don't.

Most NFL players dont have the luxury of being "ready to start" when they start. Only way he's going to get any better is to get out there, take the reps and compete. 

Worrying about it is silly. And lets not act like players who "arent ready to start" don't exceed expectations all the time. 

Not saying he'll be great or anything but again....perspective. 

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2 hours ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

Most NFL players dont have the luxury of being "ready to start" when they start. Only way he's going to get any better is to get out there, take the reps and compete. 

Worrying about it is silly. And lets not act like players who "arent ready to start" don't exceed expectations all the time. 

Not saying he'll be great or anything but again....perspective. 

Oliver will end up being lotta folks fav pick from this draft.

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11 hours ago, Knight of God said:

Good. Try Trufant at NB and Poole yo SS. At least he can hit which the others can’t even do

 

11 hours ago, Vandy said:

Agree completely. This kid is talented, just gotta learn. Throw him out there. 

Agreed fellas the kid has skills but it’s hard to showcase with no PT.  Also having Poole at SS is an upgrade for sure.  

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