Happy Labor Day, everyone! Hopefully you're reading this on your phone, relaxing on a comfy couch or at a backyard bar-be-que – unless you're in the Atlanta area, where it has been raining off and on for days. Boo. – or at a fantasy football draft with your pick a long ways off.
I just did one, and I ended up with Drake London and Cordarrelle Patterson, both of whom were available far later than they should've been.
No matter what you're doing, enjoy the down time. We're here in Flowery Branch with a full slate of content for you on what's essentially a bonus practice before Saints game week work cranks up on Wednesday.
Let's get to your question about the Falcons, who are less than a week away from facing the Saints in this Monday Bair Mail.
Dennis DiCicco from Suwanee, Ga.
I try to read as much as I can about the Falcons. There is very little to find about Drake London. Falcon fans are intrigued by his potential. Please tell us anything. What's the latest on him. Is he playing in our first game, is he health and what do you expect from him?
Bair: There hasn't been much to write about Drake London lately, because he hasn't played or practiced since hurting his knee in the preseason opener. The Falcons aren't required to provide injury updates during the preseason, so there's little information available about his status or the extent of his injury beyond the fact it isn’t considered long-term.
Will be play in Week 1? I would be surprised if he doesn't, but we'll know more Monday or Wednesday, if he's on the practice field or not. He'll need at least some ramp up period, and a full week would be ideal for a rookie without tons of experience.
In terms of how London will fare, I'm confident in saying he'll make an immediate impact and have plenty of opportunities within the structure of this offensive scheme. He's a big dude who plays big and is good at securing 50-50 balls and as a catch-and-run receiver.
We take a look at the top snaps from the final day of 2022 AT&T Training Camp practice in Flowery Branch on Thursday, September 1.
Elex Williams from Chattanooga, Tenn.
How does the running back situation look?
Bair: I think there's a solid collection of talent here that is deeper than a year ago. I'm still curious how much Cordarrelle Patterson takes conventional running back carries this season versus how much they move him around the formation. Damien Williams will factor heavily into the run game, and I think Tyler Allgeier plays a significant role in his rookie season. Everybody will have their role, with short-yardage options and quality receivers out of the backfield.
Patterson, however, has been on his own ramp-up plan. We haven't seen a ton of him even in open practices, so it's tough to get a gauge on how he'll be used in 2022. I'm sure that's by design, though we can all anticipate Arthur Smith being creative with him.
Nathan Pruitt from Athens, Ga.
It's finally game week! Can't think of a better way to kick off the season than a home victory over the Aint's! What do you think the keys to victory are this week? Rise Up!
Bair: I think the Falcons have a chance to beat New Orleans in Week 1, and for a few reasons. The first is Week 1's unpredictability. Volume of unscouted looks will be sky-high, with the Falcons having the advantage of so much new players fitting into this scheme. That includes Marcus Mariota, who will run Smith's offense much differently than Matt Ryan did.
New Orleans has the more talented roster – that defense is stacked – but New Orleans quarterback Jameis Winston has a few multi-interception games on his ledger and winning that turnover battle could be huge in a close game. The Falcons played a decent amount in the preseason and hade four total joint practices, so they've been tested in the offense.
I think it comes down to offensive efficiency and pressuring the passer. Can Lorenzo Carter and Co. impact the Saints attack? If so, the Falcons can absolutely upset their rival.
Tee Jackson from Savannah, Ga.
I'm actually very excited than ever for this season. It feels like new everything since the release of Matt Ryan (no shade to the Falcon great), but why do you think we're being written off as the worst team in the league? Do you think it's because of the schedule or the team as a whole?
Bair: You're accurate to say that Falcons expectations are low. That'll happen when you have 60-plus million in dead money and a longtime public face of the franchise is on a different team and there are no established intimidators coming off the edge.
The schedule is also pretty rough. There's no doubt about that. Yet the Falcons exceeded expectations last year and could well do so again. This roster has some explosive talent at the skill spots and the secondary. Can they hold up along both lines? If they can, the Falcons will be more competitive than people think. What does that mean in terms of a win total? I'm not sure.
One thing I do know: the Falcons don’t give a darn about outside expectations. Arthur Smith has made that clear from the podium several times this preseason. They plan on earning respect this season, proving those prognostications wrong. Can they do it? Time will tell on that front.
Call for questions
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