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How Falcons rookie class is showing maturity, 'winning mentality' in camp

Richie Grant, Kyle Pitts, others working hard, seeking veteran advice prepping for 2021 NFL season

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Atlanta Falcons safety Richie Grant #27 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Saturday July 31, 2021. (Photo by Kara Durrette/Atlanta Falcons)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Russell Gage has worked against rookie safety Richie Grant a few times during training camp and likes him as a player. Something that happened after Thursday's practice impressed the veteran Falcons receiver as much as anything that has happened on the field.

The second-round NFL Draft pick asked Gage for some advice and extra work, hoping to technically improve while working with a now established player.

"As you saw, Richie came to me and asked for a couple releases after practice," Gage said. "That's great. I love to see that. That's a winning mentality. That makes me feel good about us moving forward. They always want to work to improve."

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Grant isn't the only young buck asking Gage for advice. First-round pick Kyle Pitts is active inquiring about tricks of the trade even from someone outside the tight end group.

"Kyle always wants to ask about different things that could help slow the game down for him," Gage said. "It's exciting to see younger guys progress because I was once in that role. I wasn't afraid to ask for help, and it's good to see them doing the same. It's exciting to see their drive to get better."

There are more rookies than we've anedcotally mentioned here asking for help from vets wherever possible. It's happening throughout the crew, including those working up front, in the defensive backfield and through other position groups.

Head coach Arthur Smith has also been impressed by the rookie crop, its professionalism and desire to work. It's a good start for a young core that must help build a steady foundation for the franchise.

"It's how they handle the day-to-day," head coach Arthur Smith said. "All this is foreign to them. A lot of these guys come from good programs and have been coached well before, but there's so much in college football they have to deal with that we don't. They're not going to class or all the things you deal with as a college athlete. This is a job. Sometimes it takes a while to understand that this is a job.

"It's a really mature class. That includes the undrafted guys. They have been fun to work with. I mean, they're rookies so I'm not sitting here anointing anybody, but so far, I have been pleased with that."

Head coach Arthur Smith has also been impressed by the rookie crop, its professionalism and desire to work. It's a good start for a young core that must help build a steady foundation for the franchise.

"It's how they handle the day-to-day," head coach Arthur Smith said. "All this is foreign to them. A lot of these guys come from good programs and have been coached well before, but there's so much in college football they have to deal with that we don't. They're not going to class or all the things you deal with as a college athlete. This is a job. Sometimes it takes a while to understand that this is a job.

"It's a really mature class. That includes the undrafted guys. They have been fun to work with. I mean, they're rookies so I'm not sitting here anointing anybody, but so far, I have been pleased with that."

Take a look at the best images of the wide receivers and more during Day 6 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.

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