FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage are the Falcons top two receivers. Barring injury, set that in stone and pour concrete over it.
There's a fierce battle for positioning after that, with several combatants worthy of consideration. Some are young, essentially brand new.
Olamide Zaccheaus has been around, working and waiting patiently for the chance to prove himself. He has it now, with a golden opportunity to contribute offensively.
A solid camp and preseason could lock in his No. 3 receiver status and the regular snaps that come with it.
"A lot of people feel like that," Zaccheaus said after Tuesday's practice. "I'm going to come here and work hard for the team no matter what. I'm going to give 100 percent effort no matter what I'm asked to do. I'm all about building the team morale and helping the team win."
That's the mindset Zaccheaus held while starting from the bottom. Now he's here.
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The 2019 undrafted free agent spent his early career helping run the scout team. Then he found a role on special teams and did it well. Then he earned some offensive opportunities and fared well.
You remember the first of his 23 catches best. It was a 93-yard touchdown reception that represents a franchise best. That will always stand as a career highlight, but Zaccheaus wouldn't mind if it dims.
"That's something in the past, so I'm actually kind of tired of hearing about it," he said. "It's Year 3 now. That was a play I made my first year. I'm trying to take one day at a time and stay in the present."
Who can fault that stance? Zaccheaus believes his best is yet to come thanks to steady improvement and a commitment to his process. He puts his head down and grinds through an offseason focused on speed and strength training, followed by a football calendar focused on being quarterback friendly.
Head coach Arthur Smith is seeing that play out early in AT&T Training Camp.
"We put a lot on his plate, and he can handle it," Falcons coach Arthur Smith said during a Saturday press conference. "He's a smart dependable football player who can play multiple roles. Those guys are valuable. He can play different positions on the fly. He's working to compete for a starting spot. That's what you want. He's dependable. That's what he has shown so far."
"Dependable" is a great receiver trait. It leads to trust, which leads to snaps and targets. Zaccheaus would like to combine that with dynamic, and element he steadily showed at the University of Virginia and in flashes with the Falcons.
That should allow Zaccheaus to take the next step and help the receiver corps remain productive even after the Julio Jones trade. The Falcons still have plenty of top options in the pattern accomplish that task.
"There's no Julio, so we have to adjust," Zaccheaus said. "We understand that it's a business, People come and go. Our position group is tight knit, so we just rely on each other. That trust is our backbone. That's important to us on game day. That's what we fall back on."
Take a look at the best images of the wide receivers and more during Day 6 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.
2022 Atlanta Falcons: First Look Open Practice
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