Falcons WR Calvin Ridley was on the field for Thursday's practice after missing spring workouts recovering from foot surgery. "The Falcons number one receiver looks good," ESPN's Michael Rothstein tweeted. "Cut well out of his breaks and looked smooth as ever." We'll continue to keep an eye on Ridley, but it doesn't sound like we should be concerned about the foot.
Cordarrelle Patterson is expected to provide "depth at RB" for the Falcons, according to insider Orlando Ledbetter. Patterson played 70% of his offensive snaps for the Bears last year at RB, finishing with 64 carries and 21 catches. Atlanta is weak at both RB and WR, so Patterson might end up contributing a bit at both spots this season. He's an intriguing late-round pick in best-ball drafts.
Falcons WR Calvin Ridley recently underwent "minor" foot surgery, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "A little cleanup," Rapoport adds. Ridley won't participate in minicamp but is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. We'll keep an eye on him.
Back before his team elected not to draft any RBs, new Falcons HC Arthur Smith said he plans a committee approach in the backfield. “We’re not going to have Derrick Henry here,” Smith told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in April. “So, it’s not like I think we’re going to have Derrick Henry. The reality is that we’ll get multiple backs in here, and we’ll have the way we trust our schemes and the way we teach the details of it, and we’ll commit to it." Mike Davis stands as the clear leader in a group who's next most accomplished rusher is Cordarrelle Patterson. But Patterson will factor in. Atlanta signed Javian Hawkins after the draft. We'll see about Qadree Ollison. And the Falcons could still add pieces. Davis makes for a solid target in current best-ball drafting. Just beware of projecting him too many touches simply because we can't see exactly where else they would go yet.
Despite going undrafted, Louisville RB Javian Hawkins might have landed in the best possible spot. Hawkins delivered impressive production over 2 years with the Cardinals. (He redshirted after 2 games as a 2018 freshman.) Hawkins racked up 1,525 rushing yards in his full debut and averaged 5.9 yards per rush across the past 2 seasons. The obvious limitation is his size. Hawkins checked in at just 5’9, 183 pounds at his pro day. There’s not much recent history of NFL production at RB from players in that size range. It doesn’t help Hawkins’ outlook that he caught only 20 passes over his 2 starting seasons. He’ll need to average much more than 1 reception per game if he’s to present any fantasy value in the pros. Mark us down as skeptical that Hawkins will emerge as a fantasy factor. But Atlanta's backfield is probably his best shot at early relevance. The Falcons drafted no RBs and thus finished the draft with only Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Qadree Ollison and Tony Brooks-James on the roster at the position. We'll see how Hawkins' summer goes, but the landing spot makes him more interesting near the end of dynasty rookie drafts.
Has any RB's fantasy outlook improved more than that of Mike Davis through draft weekend? As of this writing (late in Round 6), the Falcons have spent all of their NFL Draft picks and drafted 0 RBs. "It just didn't fall our way," GM Terry Fontenot said of their RB considerations throughout the draft, according to ESPN's Michael Rothstein. That leaves 30-year-old Cordarrelle Patterson as the next most accomplished NFL rusher (167 career carries) behind Davis on the roster, and Atlanta does list Patterson at RB. Qadree Ollison and Tony Brooks-James join them. Fontenot and HC Arthur Smith added that they'll look at undrafted free agents and consider trades, free agents and post-June 1 cuts. So we'll see if the Falcons can add someone better than Davis. He has cleared a big hurdle through draft weekend, though.
After trading down in Round 2, the Falcons selected S Richie Grant from Central Florida. Grant racked up 10 INTs and 258 total tackles over the past 3 seasons. In Atlanta, he should be in line for starting duty right away in a defense that shed safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen from last year's defense.
The Falcons selected Florida TE Kyle Pitts with the 4th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s the highest a TE has ever been picked. Pitts stands nearly 6’6 and 245 pounds with a massive, 83 3/8” wingspan. As a junior in 2020, he tallied 43-770-12 across only 8 games. That sample included monster lines against Alabama (7-129-1), Tennessee (7-128) and Ole Miss (8-170-4). The 20-year-old has the movement skills and versatility of a future WR1, making him a bit of a cheat code at TE. For further confirmation of his dominance, Pitts tested very well with a 4.44 forty time (98th percentile) and a 129-inch broad jump (97th percentile). He joins Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to give the Falcons 1 of the best groups of pass-catchers in the league. We’ll probably see a lot of 2-TE sets in Atlanta this year with Pitts and Hayden Hurst under former Titans TEs coach and new Falcons HC Arthur Smith.
The Falcons signed Cordarrelle Patterson to a 1-year, $3 million deal, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports. The 29th overall pick of the 2013 draft has settled in as a return specialist and gadget player. He's averaged just 21 catches per season over the last 4 years but did set a career high with 64 carries in Chicago this past year. There's a chance he gets similar rushing volume in 2021 if Atlanta doesn't make any other additions to its backfield. Still, Patterson will only have fantasy value in leagues that award points for return yardage.
The Falcons have agreed to a 2-year, $5.5 million deal with RB Mike Davis, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. It's a sensible signing for an offense with a weak group of RBs. Davis performed solidly in place of Christian McCaffrey with the Panthers last year, including ranking 4th on the team -- and 4th among all NFL RBs -- with 59 receptions. Davis' arrival certainly doesn't preclude Atlanta from making further backfield moves. We'll see whether that includes a pick in the NFL Draft's first 2 days.
The Falcons have hired Arthur Smith as HC. Smith spent the past 2 seasons as OC in Tennessee, leading the Titans to top 12 finishes in points and yards both years. He leaned heavily on RB Derrick Henry but also helped QB Ryan Tannehill to his 2 best seasons as a pro. Tannehill notably ranked 9th and 1st, respectively, in percentage of passes to come off play-action the past 2 years. Consider the hire good news for QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing game.
Panthers RB Mike Davis (ankle) isn't expected to play vs. the Saints this weekend, ESPN's David Newton reports. So with Davis and Christian McCaffrey out, Carolina will be down to RBs Rodney Smith and Trenton Cannon. Look for Smith to handle the bulk of the work, but the matchup vs. New Orleans' top-ranked RB defense leaves him as an uninspiring fantasy play. WR Curtis Samuel should also continue to play a significant role in the ground game after carrying 7 times for 52 yards last week.
Bears WR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game vs. the Jaguars. He seems unlikely to play after missing practice all week. If Patterson is inactive on Sunday, David Montgomery figures to handle close to 100% of the backfield work.
Falcons TE Hayden Hurst (ankle) is active for today’s game vs. the Raiders. He only got in a limited practice on Friday, so he obviously won't be at 100%. But Hurst might get a target boost with WR Julio Jones out.
Falcons TE Hayden Hurst (ankle) is expected to play Sunday against the Raiders, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Hurst managed only a limited Friday practice after sitting out the previous 2 days, so he'll present some risk even if active. Las Vegas also rates 9th in TE coverage, according to Football Outsiders. We'll confirm Hurst's status when the early-game inactives come out.
Falcons TE Hayden Hurst (ankle) is questionable for this weekend's game vs. the Raiders. He only got in a limited practice on Friday, so he obviously won't be at 100% if he suits up. We'll get Hurst's game status by noon ET on Sunday.