Bair Mail: Mike Davis' prospects, Richie Grant's impact and what padded practices told us

Your questions get answers in the latest mailbag. 

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Atlanta Falcons running back Mike Davis #28 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Sunday August 1, 2021. (Photo by Kara Durrette/Atlanta Falcons)

My son Jackson checks the mail incessantly. He knows it gets delivered in the mid-afternoon most every day, yet still insists on checking it following breakfast and every few hours after that.

Maybe it's because we have an actual mailbox next to the driveway in our new Atlanta area home instead over the mail conglomerate in our Bay Area condo complex. Maybe it's because he likes running outside by himself – fret not, we're still watching – and doing a combine-style vertical leap just to see if there's any mail in the box. Maybe it's because he got a toy delivered there shortly after we moved and thinks there's a one-percent chance another one might be there. Maybe it's because he's 5, and 5-year-olds do odd things.

I think it's a strange fascination but can't be too critical. I'm the same way with Bair Mail. I'm always checking the submission form for new questions, even though I get a dang email every time one comes through. I'm always interested to see what new topics you want to discuss.

Like father, like son, I guess.

So send in some good ones and keep this conversation going strong, with deliveries three times per week. Let's get to Friday's installment right…now:

Travis Bryant from Cape Garardeau, Mo.

I feel like Mike Davis is in a great position to shine as he is flying under the radar, especially after doing so well in Carolina taking over for an injured Christian McCaffrey. Picking him up on my fantasy football team last year got me huge wins (not to mention also having Calvin Ridley AND Derrick Henry to boot). I just think this year is going to be a good chance to show last year was no anomaly. What do you think?

Bair: The Falcons certainly hope you're right, that he can become an efficient, hard-charging feature back who can wear defenses down and close out games they lead. He'll have an opportunity to do that this season after spending most of his career as a secondary option. He has done well filling in for Christian McCaffrey in Carolina and Chris Carson in Seattle, though his per carry average won't wow you.

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I won't say Davis should be out to prove 2020 was an anomaly. He should want more after averaging 3.9 yards per carry with six touchdowns.

We've only had pads on three practices now, but it's clear Davis is a hard runner with more wiggle than you think. Head coach Arthur Smith has mentioned using several backs in roles earned this summer, though Davis will get first crack at early downs. Smith also said that, just because Derrick Henry was a one-man workhorse under his coordination in Tennessee doesn't mean the Falcons will now approach rushing that way.

Others will get opportunities as the Falcons try to improve on last year's rushing inefficiency as well, but it would be a great story to see Atlanta native Mike Davis leading the Falcons back to prominence.

Nick Yingling from Dayton, Ohio

Now that the pads have come on, which players have you and the crew seen start to separate themselves in the trenches and in the defensive backfield?

Bair: Thanks for the question Nick. Great last name, even if it's spelled differently than the beer. Can't get that stuff on the West Coast and have been enjoying that it's everywhere here. I bet nobody brings that up to you though, right? Like, ever, I'm sure.

Back to your question. Yes, the pads have come on this week. That's Christmas in July to me. One huge bummer: the Falcons do all their one-on-one pass rushing drills far away on a far field, making it hard to even see.

Regarding the lines, both are a work in progress. Chris Lindstrom is legit. So is Grady Jarrett. Those battles have been great. The fact there are so many unknowns along both fronts, however, is troublesome. In terms of some names to follow, Adetokunbo Ogundeli has seen a lot of first team reps recently. Joseph Tuioti-Mariner has been a fixture off the edge. Tyeler Davison has been good and Marlon Davidson's starting to pick things up a bit.

The offensive line remains in flux and will until Kaleb McGary comes off PUP. If he retakes the right tackle spot, left guard could become a dogfight. Smith has brought up Drew Dalman a few times. Matt Hennessy seems to be the starting center right now.

There have been several flashes in the secondary, none brighter that A.J. Terrell. If the season were to start today (it doesn't), Fabian Moreau starts opposite Terrell, likely with Isaiah Oliver in the slot. There's plenty of time for Chris Williamson, Darren Hall and the like to shake that up in competition, but that hasn't happened yet.

Isaiah Davis from Danbury, Conn.

How do you feel about Richie Grant? I think he could have a huge impact his rookie year.

Bair: Richie Grant is a talent player doing rookie things. He'll make a great practice play one minute, a subpar one the next. That happened earlier this week, where he was all over defensing a pass and then missed on the same play a bit later.

There's no doubting the Central Florida product's talent. He might take some time to develop, which is why the Falcons went out and signed Erik Harris and Duron Harmon to start and possibly play every down. Grant could find a niche role as a safety in certain packages, one who can cover the slot. I wouldn't expect the world of a rookie, nor would I be surprised if he improves to the point where he makes a bigger impact at the end over the beginning.

A call for more questions

And that'll do it for my first Bair Mail-bag, like ever. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I liked writing it. Let's keep it rolling and make these a regular thing. Submit your questions here and they could get answered in the next installment.

The coaches and staff wore green shirts to support the Novelis Rise Up & Recycle initiative on Day 7 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.

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