FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Drake London was injured after his first - and only - catch in the Falcons first preseason game in Detroit on Friday. London immediately went into the medical tent after the 24-yard catch. He emerged moments later but it was announced he would not return to the game with a knee injury.
After the game, Arthur Smith said the Falcons would know more about London's injury when they returned to Atlanta. By Sunday's practice, though, London was not participating. Smith gave an update on London after said practice saying that the injury was "nothing we're concerned about long term."
When asked if London would be healthy enough to return to practice at any point this week, Smith said "probably not," but continued to express that it was not an injury they were overly worried about. The head coach continued by saying he believes any player that is currently injured should still be ready by Week 1 of the regular season.
The Falcons travel to New York later in the week for two joint practices with the Jets before facing them in their second of three preseason games on Monday night. Based on Smith's comments on Sunday, the chances of seeing London in action and at 100 percent at that point seems slim, but it's a situation we'll continue to monitor throughout the week.
Walker stepping up as defensive field general
Mykal Walker has become an important part of this Falcons defense as a play-caller and communicator, which is vital for someone playing an inside linebacker spot. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees praised those abilities in a Sunday press conference, saying that he has been really impactful in those areas.
"Mentally, Mykal Walker is top shelf," Pees said. "He is really smart, football smart, and really understands, communicates. I have no qualms whatsoever about him understanding this defense. Understanding the position is sometimes still a work in progress but he's busting his butt and he's doing well. Communication-wise, Mykal is a great communicator knowing the defense."
At this early stage, Walker has been the defensive signal caller. He was a reserve behind Foye Oluokun and Deion Jones, but Pees knew even then that Walker was capable of running the show.
"Even though he wasn't the starter, I thought he was doing better than any of the starters did," Pees said. "When we did put him in, I thought he communicated well. He was always on top of it and was into it. Even before we started OTAs, we had him marked down as a guy who could call the huddle."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions in the first preseason game of 2022.
Other news and notes
It's always a fun matchup when tight end Kyle Pitts and cornerback A.J. Terrell lock horns in practice. Arguably the Falcons' two best players regardless of position don't often matchup, considering how much Pitts moves around the formation, but it's always well contested when they do.
Terrell won the first matchup, batting a Marcus Mariota pass out of Pitts' hands, He stood still and flexed to celebrate the moment. Mariota went right back to Pitts on the next rep, with the tight end slipping free for a moderate gain.
Speaking of Pitts, the tight end received praise from Smith and Pees for improvements in his blocking ability. While he's primarily known as a receiving threat as an in-line tight end or out wide, his improvement in the run game hasn't gone unnoticed. That could make him even more unpredictable, with defenses unsure if he'll stay in to block or go out into the patter.
DT Marlon Davidson missed another practice on Sunday, dealing with an undisclosed ailment. LB Nick Kwiatkoski, CB Darren Hall, CB Cornell Armstrong and London weren't out on the field, either. S Jaylinn Hawkins was extremely limited in his work. LB Troy Andersen was back at practice after missing the Lions game
WR Bryan Edwards was working without the yellow jersey, as he had in the last non-padded practice.
Open practice coming up at MBS
The Falcons will run an opening practice on Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the first time they're worked out at their home venue during training camp. Get tickets for the event right here.