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Nerdy Birdz: Four must-know stats about Falcons rookies heading into the season finale


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – This weekend the Falcons play their final game of the year against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Here are stats on the Falcons' rookies who could play a key role in the Week 17 matchup against the Bucs:

1. Ridley rundown: This season, wide receiver Calvin Ridley has totaled nine receiving touchdowns, the most among rookies in the NFL and tied for the most among Falcons rookies in the franchise. The 2018 first-round draft pick is currently tied with Junior Miller (1980) and needs one more to set a new rookie record. With the final game this Sunday, will the Alabama alum break the record?

2. No-fly Oliver: Cornerback Isaiah Oliver was inactive the first two games of the season, but due to injuries and his progress on special teams, the Colorado alum saw a continuous increase in playing time throughout the last 13 games. The 2018 second-round draft pick has totaled 18 tackles (15 solo), four solo special teams tackles, and last Sunday he made his first career interception on a Taylor Heinicke pass in the end zone. Oliver became the 16th rookie since 2000 to catch an interception and the first since 2016.

3. Foye find: No one expected, even middle linebacker Foye Oluokun himself the amount of playing time and role he ended up having this season. The Yale alum played in all 15 games, including six starts, totaling 82 tackles (51 solo), including two for a loss, two QB hits, one pass defense and one forced fumble. Among rookie linebackers, Oluokun has the sixth-most tackles, trailing the Colts' Darius Leonard, the Cowboys' Leighton Vander Esch, the Bills' Tremaine Edmunds and the 49ers' Fred Warner. With six tackles on Sunday, the 2018 sixth-round draft pick will have the fourth-most tackles in a season by a Falcons rookie since 2000, trailing Paul Worrilow, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal.

4. The Judge: Although running back Ito Smith was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 17, the rookie running back still had an incredible season. The Southern Miss alum posted 90 rushes for 315 yards, including four touchdowns, and 27 receptions for 152 yards. Smith's four rushing touchdowns are the most by a Falcons rookie since T.J. Duckett (4) in 2002. While the fourth-round draft pick is done for the year, Smith will be a force to be reckoned with come 2019.

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