FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Kyle Pitts came across the end zone during Tuesday's practice, running into traffic with Fabian Moreau just behind. Matt Ryan aimed his pass a bit higher than normal, in a place where only the 6-foot-6 tight end could grab it.
Pitts jumped up and caught the ball at its peak, bringing it down to secure the touchdown reception. One problem: Moreau's leg was in the way. It knocked the ball free for a moment, with incompletion probability ratcheting up. Pitts was undeterred. He remained focused and regained possession before hitting the ground.
It was undoubtedly the best play of camp.
Don't believe me? I dare you to dissent after watching it here:
It's plays like this, captured by Falcons videographer Jenny Ross and edited well by Sam Larsen, that offer a glimpse of Pitts' great ability and show why the Falcons took him No. 4 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
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"It's good to see him make those plays," head coach Arthur Smith said. "You've got to make them in practice and you build them up to make them in the games. It was encouraging to see him make those plays that we expect him to make."
First practice in pads
The Falcons donned pads on Tuesday for the first time this training camp, which ups the intensity and competition level among the offensive and defensive linemen especially. It also offers a clearer picture of the Falcons rushing attack and its run defense, even if players aren't going to the ground.
"It was a pretty spirited practice out there, really good give and take," Smith said. "Like I said, we're pressing these guys – being aggressive, work some more situational football, ball comes out and it's some tight windows, but it was really good competition back and forth, I thought, the whole day."
McGary on the mend
Right tackle Kaleb McGary missed his sixth straight practice on Sunday while on the physically unable to perform list with an undisclosed ailment. Smith said the incumbent right tackle is on the road to recovery.
"He's doing everything we're asking him to do," Smith said. "I don't anticipate that being too long, I mean, much longer, but again it's hard to give a firm timetable because we've got to do what's in best interest for the player and the team. Kaleb's doing well."
Jalen Mayfield continues to fill in at right tackle in McGary's absence and will challenge for the starting spot this summer.
In another injury-related note, interior defensive lineman Tyeler Davison missed Tuesday's practice. Smith said he is working through something and doesn't expect his absence to be long-term. Jonathan Bullard and Ta'Quon Graham rotated into the first team a bit more that usual on this day.
More practice notes
We saw more situational work on Sunday than previous Falcons practices, with some good work getting done in the red zone. That's where Pitts made the incredible catch featured above, but he wasn't the only one with a highlight. Christian Blake made a diving catch in the corner of the end zone as well. Cornerback Kendall Sheffield showed some athleticism breaking up a pass intended for Frank Darby. Tight end Ryan Becker made a nice catch in that red zone drill, a positive for someone who has dropped a few passes and fumbled more than once early on … Linebacker Deion Jones made a veteran play in coverage during a 7-on-7 period, slapping the ball out of Calvin Ridley's hands after the catch. … Rookie Drew Dalman, who has mostly played center to this point, regularly rotated with Josh Andrews at left guard. … The Falcons waived/injured punter Sterling Hofrichter and signed Cameron Nizalek. Smith also said that Dom Maggio is banged up right now but is expected to punt during the preseason. "We need somebody to win that job," Smith said.
The Atlanta Falcons were in full pads for the first time on Day 5 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp. Here are the best images.