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Early Bird Report 3/8: Austin Hooper skipping vacation to 'put in work' with Matt Ryan

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes Austin Hooper's offseason focus and his work with Matt Ryan as well as the Seahawks reportedly sending Michael Bennett to the Eagles.



ESPN: Hooper focused on helping Ryan, not fighting critics

Although he's just completed his second season in the NFL and shown improvement during that time, a vocal portion of the Falcons fan base has been critical of tight end Austin Hooper. The third-round pick in the Falcons' stellar 2016 draft class has caught 68 passes for 797 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons.

Hooper isn't focused on battling the critics, however. He spoke with ESPN's Vaughn McClure about his intention of working out with quarterback Matt Ryan this offseason to improve their rapport.

"I came back to Atlanta this early in the offseason from California to put in the work instead of just being on vacations," Hooper told McClure. "It was just me and Matt. He's starting to throw again, so I want to make sure I'm there as much as possible. Every time he wants to throw, I'm trying to make sure that I'm there."

This is the second offseason in a row that Hooper and Ryan have worked out together. Prior to last year's training camp, Ryan traveled out to California, where he met with Hooper for a few throwing sessions.

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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL Seahawks trade Michael Bennett to Eagles

The rich are getting richer. After winning the Super Bowl, in part due to a fearsome defensive line, the Eagles have traded with the Seahawks to acquire versatile pass rusher Michael Bennett, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

In addition to Bennett the Eagles are receiving the Seahawks' seventh-round pick; they are sending their fifth-round pick and wide receiver Marcus Johnson to Seattle.

For the Seahawks, Bennett's trade is just one of many moves the team could make this offseason to drastically re-shape their roster. There are already reports out that Richard Sherman won’t be back with the team next season.

With the addition of Bennett, the Eagles just improved one of their best position groups. Now, the Eagles could have a third-down pass rush consisting of Bennett, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. That's the stuff of quarterback nightmares.

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