Skip to main content

Camp Report: RB Bijan Robinson's 'mindset is already made for the game' Friday

Falcons coach Arthur Smith has said starters will play against Bengals 


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Don't ask Bijan Robinson what his goals are for his rookie season.

The Atlanta Falcons running back has answered that question the exact same way since his sophomore year of high school when it was first broached due to his obvious talent.

He has none.

"I've never been a guy to write end goals," Robinson said Monday. "Because I know, if I play my game and just let the God-given ability go, then hopefully things like that will happen."

Things like what?

"I have the same expectation every year: to want to be the best player I can be," Robinson said.

That mindset has clearly worked out for Robinson. He had a standout collegiate career at Texas. He was the Falcons' first-round draft pick this offseason. And he has been performing well in his first NFL training camp.

Robinson's competitive debut — albeit exhibition — could very well be Friday, too. Falcons coach Arthur Smith has already said multiple times that starters will play in the team's second preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Robinson, who did not play in the Atlanta's win over the Miami Dolphins last Friday, has indeed been practicing with the starters.

"We didn't give him an opportunity last week because he's going to play," Smith said Monday. "We're not going to go crazy. We just need the reps. We need to get our bread-and-butter concepts in there. … So, that's what you'll see: some of the basic stuff. We'll get him going, so he can feel the speed, a little bit more speed than he's felt out there at practice, and he'll get tackled. We'll get him ready to go for Sept. 10."

That's when the real action starts anyway, as the Falcons host the Carolina Panthers for their regular-season opener.

Really, all Smith wants to do is get Robinson's feet wet Friday. Smith even used that analogy when explaining his decision. Because regardless of how many times Robinson has been called mature, he is still a rookie.

But as far as Robinson himself is concerned, he can dive right in — confident he won't sink; he'll swim.

"My mindset is already made for the game," Robinson said. "When I get on the field — like the energy (when) I just see the stadium, the stands, all the fans — I'm ready to go. I say my quick prayer, and I go out there and do what I gotta do."

Bijan bonus: Robinson and fellow running back Cordarrelle Patterson attended the Beyoncé: Renaissance World Tour concert at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last Saturday.

"'1+1,' that was my favorite song she sung," Robinson said. "That's my favorite song by her. But when she sung it, I was screaming."

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch during the 2023 AT&T Training Camp.

More notes, observations from Monday:

Roll call: There were again eight Falcons players missing from practice. Only one was a new absence, and it wasn't because of an injury. Defensive lineman Ta'Quon Graham had a rest day.

Otherwise, running back Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver Frank Darby, offensive linemen Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman, cornerbacks Jeff Okudah, Mike Hughes and Cornell Armstrong were out for the second consecutive day.

Yes, that's seven repeats even though I said again eight. Linebacker Mykal Walker was the eighth absentee Sunday, but that's because he was released. Which, update, Walker was claimed Monday by the Chicago Bears.

Practice injury: Linebacker Ade Ogundeji left early with an injury. Per usual, Smith did not have a firm update afterward.

"I hate to keep saying this, but wait until I get all the (medical) results," Smith said.

Line movement: Offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield lined up at left tackle in a turn of events. He was listed on Falcons' first depth chart at right tackle, behind starter Kaleb McGary. Jake Matthews is the left-side starter.

"Somebody needs to take that swing-tackle spot," Smith said. "There's a lot of ways you can logistically do it, and I think Jalen has had some good days at right tackle, but you have to have these contingency plans. You hope like hell you have the same five, but that's usually not the reality. …

"At the end of the day, everybody in this league is looking for tackles and a third tackle. So, it's an opportunity for Jalen over there to see if he can play that other side as well."

Mayfield started 16 games in 2021 at left guard, taking 992 snaps (99%). He spent 2022 on injured reserve.

Quick hits: Safety Jessie Bates changed to a No. 3 jersey after sporting the No. 30 all training camp. Walker previously had the No. 3, but it became available with his departure. … Cornerback Bless Austin's signing was announced at the start of practice. He has taken on a No. 31 jersey. … Speaking of Bates, he had an interception on quarterback Desmond Ridder during seven-on-seven work. Cornerback Natrone Brooks intercepted quarterback Logan Woodside during 11-on-11 drills. Forgot to share this Sunday, but while mentioning interceptions, safety Lukas Denis picked off Ridder then. … Robinson, wide receivers Keilahn Harris and Zay Malone rotated as the punt returners before wide receiver Mathew Sexton joined for a rep. Robinson had a one-hand catch, though the whistle blew before he could attempt a return. Harris and Malone shared kickoff return responsibilities later.

Up next: The Falcons return to practice Tuesday to continue preparation for the Bengals on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX 5).

Related Content