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Bair Mail: Getting creative with tight ends, Dante Fowler's impact and question marks up front

Your questions find answers in the latest Falcons mailbag


Went down to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Saturday's practice. Didn't see Kanye.

He was in there somewhere, having taken up residence in the Falcons home venue while completing his next album. Can't believe he didn't seek me out for opinions on his new tracks.

I might've mentioned that things have gotten a little wonky since My Dark and Twisted Fantasy – that's a masterwork – and a callback to his earlier work might reignite his initial fan base.

Maybe. We'll never know, though he should heed my advice. I can make it into a Benz out of that Datsun. I've got that ambition, baby. It's not like I'm a college dropout or anything.


Looks like I'll have another shot to watch (for) the throne on Friday when the Falcons play Tennessee. Don't think Mr. West going anywhere anytime soon.

Since I've got nothing new to report on Kanye, let's turn our attention to what I did get to see on Saturday and throughout Atlanta Falcons AT&T Training Camp in Monday's edition of Bair Mail:

Chuck Ellis from Marietta, Ga.

I have 3 concerns:

1) Offensive line: You've discussed this already, we don't know yet.

2).Defensive ends: Is anybody stepping up?

3) Red zone offense: The triple TE set should be super effective. Thoughts?

Bair: That's three questions in one, Chuck, and they're all concerns. Turn that frown upside, buddy. Let's get that glass half full with a few quick takes.

1. Offensive line: See the next question. I discussed it some more.

2. Defensive ends: Dante Fowler came back to practice on Monday, and it took two seconds to realize he's far and away the team's most talented edge rusher. He has the speed and burst others on this team can't match. They need to get him going this year after a disappointing 2020 campaign, and they need to let him and Grady Jarrett work in tandem to create havoc. If Fowler's going strong, this pass rush will look a lot better than it did last year.

3. Tight ends: This one intrigues me. We talk a ton about having Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst on the field at same time. What if Lee Smith joined them? He calls himself an honorary offensive lineman, a badge he wears with pride. He can catch passes, though, and would face light coverage with all those other guys in the pattern. He has 10 career touchdowns, including six in the last three years. He can a weapon in the right situation. Tight end is definitely a team strength, and head coach Arthur Smith will use those assets often. Take that to the bank.

Josh Brown from Nova Scotia, Canada

Long time Falcons fan from Canada here. The OL seems to be a big question mark and maybe that's true most years, but the departure of Alex Mack seems like a tough hurdle to overcome. Outside of Matthews and Lindstrom, how do you truly feel about the rest of the group and their ability to come together?

Bair: I would agree the offensive line is a major question mark heading into the season, mostly because there's so much unknown. Can Kaleb McGary put that right tackle spot in a sleeper hold? The Falcons certainly need him to do so and elevate his game in Year 3. The left guard spot must come into clearer focus. And, you're right, replacing Alex Mack ain't easy. How Matt Hennessy handles the position, especially from the mental side of things, will go a long way in determining the line's success.

While questions abound about the offensive front, there's no reason to assume the worst. This line has talent and the time required to get int sync before the regular season starts. That does, however, have to happen for the offense to reach its peak.

Guy Lenz from Lawrenceville, Ga.

Welcome to Atlanta. Have you discovered fire ants or yellow jackets yet? I probably shouldn't mention the ice storms…you're going to love it here. I guarantee it.

Bair: Excuse me, Guy, but did you say fire ants? That's a real thing, not just a creation dreamt up in a bad 1950s horror movie? And yellow jackets aren't just a Georgia Tech mascot around here?

Yeah. I didn't get either memo.

And, how can we have ice storms when there's a daily monsoon?? Uncool, Georgia. Un-cool.

I know you asked actual football question about what veterans are saying about the new regime and camp this year. I'll let Grady Jarrett answer how he feels about Arthur Smith with what might be my favorite quote from camp:

"It's deeper than a message," Jarrett said. "It's about putting a good product on the field, putting the work in. He made it clear that we're not about slogans and all that. The best players are going to play. The toughest dudes are going to play. There ain't no fluff. We're going to get the best out of everybody day in, and day out. I can't do anything but respect that. I love that about him."

Ed Hawkins from Lawrenceville, Ga.

When will you ship my tickets?

Bair: Just so we're clear, Bair Mail is not a real delivery service. I think it's important we all know that. Though if you're starving for a Johnny's Pizza and live in the Buford area, I can hook you up. Please tip well.

Call for questions

Let's keep the good questions coming. You can submit yours here and it might get answered in Wednesday's edition.

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