FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Drake London is nearing the end of his first NFL offseason program. There's one practice day remaining before a summer break, concluding a whirlwind period where the Falcons drafted him No. 8 overall and then he got right to work.
It was his first real football work since October, when he suffered an ankle injury at USC. Intensity has been high over the past four-plus weeks, where he has tried to absorb the scheme while getting acclimated to Atlanta and fully participating in football activities.
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Every moment hasn't been perfect, but that's expect for players getting used to so much new. London has made steady progress, however, and is fitting in well.
"Honestly, getting in the feel for playing football again has been great," he said after Tuesday's minicamp practice. "I haven't really played since October. I've had a couple days, a couple weeks to get acclimated and get back. I'm still progressing, obviously. All this is new, but I'm going in the right direction."
There have been bright spots during sessions open to the media. There have been rookie mistakes, which happens, you know, with rookies. There have been moments of pride and the occasion sign of frustration which happens, you know, with talented perfectionists.
"I'm going to be my hardest critic," London said. "That's how I've been since I was little. That's how I'll always be. Sometimes it can get the best of me, but I try not to let it show."
London's biggest offseason-program revelation during his transition to the pros is something pretty common among rookies, right up there with the speed of the game. The margin for error is razor thin.
"You have to be on point with everything you do," London said. "I think we're all learning that pretty quick. We're doing pretty good."
London has shown solid skill, route running and hand in the early going, and is building chemistry with quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder.
Mariota's a veteran London has followed since his days with the Ducks, and he's getting to know Ridder as we go.
"Marcus Mariota is that QB, and catching balls from him is pretty cool," London said. "I've been watching him since he was at Oregon. It's like a dream come true, playing [E/A Sports' NCAA Football] with him and all that. Ridder has been good to play with, too. He has a strong arm. He's really smart, and it's fun playing with a guy of his caliber."
Only a Wednesday practice and a Thursday team-building excursion to TopGolf remains in the offseason program, London will make his native Southern California home base during a relative football break.
London will surely take some advantage of the down time, but there won't be tons of rest and relaxation.
His summer plans: "Work my butt off. I've got a lot to prove, and I'm ready to do it."
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