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Training camp preview: Punter Sterling Hofrichter facing competition

Falcons return game could be dynamic with Cordarrelle Patterson and Avery Williams

Atlanta Falcons punter Sterling Hofrichter #4 and punter Dom Maggio #9 look on during Atlanta Falcons minicamp on June 10, 2021.
Atlanta Falcons punter Sterling Hofrichter #4 and punter Dom Maggio #9 look on during Atlanta Falcons minicamp on June 10, 2021.

The Falcons drafted a punter last year. Taking one is a rarity for most teams, even where Sterling Hofrichter was selected.

He came in at No. 228 overall, a handful of picks before that draft's end. He joined the Falcons after a productive tenure at Syracuse, well known for solid hang time and an ability to handle kickoffs.

Draft status doesn't secure one's spot for long.

In fact, Hofrichter may have to earn his gig again this summer. The Falcons signed Dom Maggio this offseason, and the Wake Forest alum could put up a serious challenge to be the team's punter in 2021.

The Falcons could be looking for a change after finishing last in the NFL with 42.5 yards per punt. Hofrichter averaged 39.3 net yards per punt, a lackluster number that must be improved.


Maggio was signed by Baltimore last year as an undrafted free agent but didn't make the cut. He'll get another shot at the NFL in Falcons training camp, with a fair shot to beat out the incumbent.

He has a boomer leg, with 46.8-yard average as a senior at Wake Forest. Keep an eye on both players during camp and the preseason for clues on who will win an off-the-radar position battle that will have a massive impact on field position.

There will be no such drama at kicker. Younghoe Koo has the gig locked up after a Pro Bowl campaign in 2020. He hit 95 percent of his field goal attempts and was a perfect 8-8 from 50-plus yards.

Kicker Younghoe Koo has earned his first Pro Bowl nod following for his play in the 2020 season. The Pro Bowl rosters are determined by a combination of fan, player and coach voting, and both Koo and Jarrett are well-deserving of the recognition.

The Falcons employ one of the best returners to ever do it in Cordarrelle Patterson, and the receiver turned running back will be heavily involved on special teams. He has been excellent returning kickoffs lately, with back-to-back All-Pro honors for his efforts. Patterson has returned eight kickoffs for a touchdown, including one in each of the last four seasons.

Cornerback Avery Williams could be a real factor returning punts. The fifth-round rookie had six punt-return touchdowns over four years at Boise State, plus three more returning kicks.

Having weapons like that on special teams could be a huge asset for the Falcons, especially if the blocking is good.

Special teams coordinator Marquice Williams is darn good at what he does, and should get those units ready to excel by the time we hit the regular season, especially with quality weapons at his disposal.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London #5 during team practice at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

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