FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Marcus Mariota is getting to know his pass catchers well now that training camp is in full swing. He's throwing a ton to the Falcons' top targets.
That includes tight end Kyle Pitts, who put in tons of detail work on his route running heading into his second NFL season.
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Mariota can tell. The first-unit quarterback sees a savvy route runner who is easy to throw to, a large target with long arms who can make plays on passes anywhere in his vicinity.
"For a guy his size, with his catch radius, his length and his ability to get in and out of cuts makes it easy on us," Mariota said in his Monday press conference. "His body language as a receiver makes it simple. You know when he's coming in and out of breaks. We know when he's going to break down. It's really a credit to him. I think that, as we continue to jell, our chemistry will continue to grow."
Being quarterback friendly is key for pass catchers. Being in the right place at the right time, with steady hands and providing a wide target is key. So is the trust built by making plays in traffic and tight coverage, providing confidence for a quarterback throws it into tight spaces.
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That's especially true on third down, or anytime an offense is trying to move the chains. Pitts set out to be better in that area. He set out to dissect defenses better, finding soft spots in coverage where he can comfortably receive a pass. He's also working to be better against double teams or safeties and linebackers shading toward him
"Running good routes is really important, especially when you're trying to get first downs," Pitts said last week. "That's definitely a focus for me."
Mariota can tell. He has been impressed by Pitts as a route runner, especially for a second-year pro.
"Everyone has a skill set and everyone can get better at some things," Mariota said. "For Kyle, it's about continuing to push some of those things so he can run anything on the field. That allows him to get into different situations and different matchups."
Mariota had a tough time finding a comparison for Pitts from his past, which is no shock for a player nicknamed “The Unicorn."
"I wouldn't compare Kyle to anybody else," Mariota said. "He has a very unique skill set, one that benefits us. We just have to find ways to get him the ball."
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