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Early Bird Report 5/21: Falcons' Foyesade Oluokun among a unique crop of NFL players

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes Foyesade Oluokun's mission to prove Ivy Leaguers can thrive in the NFL as well as Dalvin Cook ahead of schedule in his rehab.



ESPN: Falcons' Foyesade Oluokun out to validate Ivy Leaguers in NFL

The Falcons aren't afraid to pursue Ivy League players to add to their roster, as evidenced by the drafting of Yale linebacker Foyesade Oluokun in the sixth round and the signing of Brown linebacker as a college free agent.

Atlanta wasn't exactly in the majority this year, however, as Oluokun was one of just two Ivy League players selected in the draft. After receiving his opportunity, Oluokun is out to prove Ivy Leaguers can be athletes of the highest caliber.

"Once they see you in the Ivy League, they shut off their brains like, 'These are not athletes like other schools are used to playing.' That's the stigma," Oluokun told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. "I don't like it, personally, because I think there are a lot of athletes in the Ivy League. And long as we get our opportunity, is what it comes down to in the end. Yes, you kind of have to work harder for it. But hopefully, people are waking up to us."

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker opened eyes at a pro day hosted by Fordham University, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and posted a broad jump of 10 feet, 3 inches.

Oluokun is now preparing for his first NFL training camp, and although he was drafted by the Falcons, he knows his work is only just beginning. It's often said that special teams are a way for players to earn a spot on the roster, and Oluokun is embracing that path.

"I want to be all over the special teams: kick return, kickoff, punt, all of it," Oluokun told McClure. "Try to fly down -- you know, I'm an athletic dude -- try to use my body in the best way possible to make tackles, make blocks. I love winning, so whatever coach wants me to do to win is what I do. Keep learning my role on defense as a linebacker and try to get myself in the game."

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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL Vikings RB Dalvin Cook 'ahead of schedule' in ACL rehab

Given the success the Minnesota Vikings had last season – coming within just one game of the Super Bowl – it can be easy to forget that they were without one of their expected top offensive weapons for most of the season.

Dalvin Cook, the No. 41-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, looked like yet another stellar rookie running back last season prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury in a Week 4 loss to the Detroit Lions. It's intriguing to think about what the Vikings' offense will look like with Cook back in the fold, and according to head coach Mike Zimmer, he's ahead of schedule in his rehab.

"He's done really well," Zimmer said at a football camp on Saturday, according to’s Adam Maya. "He's ahead of schedule. We're excited about where he's at."

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