FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Falcons head coach Arthur Smith worked his way up the ranks before landing his current gig, including a stint working with tight ends.
He became a position coach again on Monday, when he spent time working with Kyle Pitts on how to execute specific routes during a special teams period. It was a team effort, with offensive coordinator Dave Ragone, current tight ends coach Justin Peele and quarterback Matt Ryan helping the teach the rookie tight end. It wasn't just talking. The crew was hands-on helping him.
Pitts was all eyes and ears, laser focused on the wisdom bestowed. The No. 4 overall pick, it turns out, is quite coachable.
"We're throwing a lot at Kyle," Smith said. "It's like I told him, it's a long journey, and you try to remind these guys but there's little nuances then there's things that he's going to have to learn on his own. I tell him obviously, Justin Peele can tell him pretty good and then he's got veterans in the room. There are certain things we'll ask him to do that [blocking tight end] Lee Smith has never done.
"Sometimes in the act of doing it, it slows down, showing things in the classroom, you may have film of clips of other guys, here's how they done it. Some guys need to feel it. Like I said there's a lot of different ways to teach. That was just an example right there. We were working, just kind of going through the nuances there."
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Pitts' NFL career is in its infancy, and while he's expected to make an immediate and profound impact, he has a lot to learn. Coaches are trying to help him absorb, apply and execute his diverse responsibilities well as we head toward the regular season.
Dante Fowler, Kaleb McGary get back to work
Edge rusher Dante Fowler practiced Monday for the first time in Atlanta Falcons AT&T Training Camp after missing time on the COVID-19 list. Smith has said Fowler must earn his role, though it's expected to be a big one in 2021. He hopped right in with the first and second units and showed great burst and explosiveness rushing the passer, thought his reps were somewhat limited.
His talent is clear, and a strong season from him will be key for a Falcons defense looking for better. The Falcons, however, will be smart getting him back into the mix during this camp.
"We're in a position where we can try to increase his workload every day," Smith said. "He hasn't been able to practice for multiple reasons, but now he's back and he's fired up ready to go. We like guys that want to go. He wants to do more, and we have to pull him back a little bit, but it'll be a several-week evaluation. We got a lot of outside linebackers on the roster right now. There are good opportunities in these preseason games, and then hopefully we can make the best objective decision for the team."
Right tackle Kaleb McGary will also be eased back in after being activated off the physically unable to perform list Monday morning. McGary isn't expected to play Friday's preseason opener against Tennessee.
Catch of the day
This one belonged to a defensive player. Slot cornerback Isaiah Oliver went sky high to make an interception that stands among the best plays this camp. Check it out:
More practice news and notes
The Falcons signed running back D'Onta Foreman on Tuesday, adding depth to a position group. Smith has worked with him before in Tennessee. He could step right in and take some carries against the Titans. … Both CB Kendall Sheffield and FB Keith Smith missed practice due to injury, but Smith didn't consider either one series. WR Austin Trammell also remains out. RB Qadree Ollison returned to practice, but he wore a yellow non-contact jersey during Monday's session. EDGE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner also returned after missing Saturday's work. … S T.J. Green did some work at cornerback on Monday and showing versatility to improve his odds of making the team.
Cornerback Isaiah Oliver made big plays on Day 10 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp. Take a look at the best images from the day.