FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Cordarrelle Patterson is fast. Like, really fast.
We've known that scientific fact for some time, after watching him return one kickoff return after another for a touchdown during a highlight-reel NFL career.
Yet it's still somehow surprising seeing it live and up close. Jaws dropped a few times during Wednesday's practice when the Falcons running back hit warp speed. It happened later in the session when Patterson took a handoff left and was a blur running through open space. Linebacker Deion Jones saw firsthand that Patterson's a tough cover on a deep pass reception earlier in the day.
You can see it through lenses of Falcons videographers Mark Wittingham and Jenny Ross right here:
Patterson versus a linebacker is borderline unfair, which is what makes Patterson's continued transition to running back so intriguing. Head coach Arthur Smith can send him in motion or on a route out of the backfield while matched up with a slower player, to take advantage of his speed and skills as a career receiver.
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That only works if Patterson can establish himself as a runner and pass blocker, to add an air of unpredictability to what he might do while in the lineup. He's certainly big enough at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds to run between the tackles, obviously fast enough to create big gains working through the second level.
Patterson adds another element to an already deep set of skill players. It will be interesting to see how Smith uses his speed and versatility as we move forward.
Jarrett's leadership leaves a mark
Star defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is an excellent football player. This next paragraph won't be about that. It'll be about the huge compliment given Jarrett by Smith on Wednesday afternoon when discussing his veteran leadership.
"You know Grady brings it every day. That's why he's a real pro," Smith said. "There's nothing fake about Grady. He practices hard and everything he does, he walks the walk, everything you want from a guy that's a leader, true leader, authentic up there, and he sets the tone because he's out there practicing and practicing hard."
We already know that Marlon Davidson looks up to Jarrett. So do several others on the interior defensive front, who can follow his example towards their own progress.
Smith is big on authentic leadership and having a Pro Bowler and veteran leading that way it a big plus for a Falcons defense looking to level up.
More practice news, notes
The Falcons second practice in pads wasn't loaded with highlights, though there were a few good moments. Richie Grant had an excellent pass defensed working against Kyle Pitts, though Smith said he got beat on a similar route later in practice. Grant has been up and down, as you'd expect from a rookie learning a difficult position early in camp. … Defensive Tyeler Davison returned to practice after missing Tuesday's session. … Receiver Austin Trammell missed Wednesday's work with an undisclosed ailment, though Smith didn't consider it long-term. Drew Dalman continued rotating in at left guard on the first unit. Matt Hennessy is the first-team center at this point.
Take a look at the best images of the wide receivers and more during Day 6 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.