From heat to tongue, what Atlanta Falcons rookies took away from the offseason – Atlanta Falcons Blog
FLOWERING BRANCH, Georgia – Drake London left the Atlanta Falcons training ground last Tuesday, drenched in sweat. You would expect it after any football practice, but it was a bit different.
London, the Falcons’ first pick this year, hadn’t experienced anything like it. He grew up in California, played wide receiver at the University of Southern California, then found himself in the heat of Georgia, where the temperature hit nearly triple digits before the humidity.
“This fucking time,” London said. “Definitely something I have to get used to, I would say.”
London compared its off-season progress to the weather last Tuesday. Practice started, then thunderstorms delayed things an hour before the Falcons resumed in slightly wetter conditions. So her first month? Sunny and positive for a while, then bouts of bad weather/poor play for someone who hasn’t been in a competitive team environment since last October when he broke his ankle at the USC.
Weather issues aside, and remember, the Falcons play home games inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, although they practice outside in the heat, there were things that Falcons coach Arthur Smith wanted his rookies to learn throughout their time in organized team activities. Things he pointed out to his first-year players (and all of his players) in May and June.
“It’s more than one thing, but basically how we operate here,” Smith said. “The habits we want to enforce, the habits of practice on the pitch. The way we teach and set up, learn, really learn the language is what you do.
A lot of the OTA and minicamps were about setup – really the only work in the 11v11 periods was a setup process versus anything really live, especially without touch or pads . He was acclimating to everything as a pro and trying to start building chemistry between players who hadn’t worked together.
It started in rookie minicamp, when the Falcons had four of the team’s offensive draft picks — London, quarterback Desmond Cavaliercome back Tyler Allgeier and tight end John FitzPatrick — All together in the dorms at the Falcons facility.
Acclimatization was important, as was the start of discovering everything players would need to know as they transitioned from college to pro. And that’s what Ridder took away from the first month.
But that wasn’t what surprised him the most. No. What stood out to him was one area in which he was succeeding faster than he had expected: learning to attack.
“I thought I was going to come in and struggle a bit,” Ridder said. “We have almost completed all of our installations and, as I said, we are doing all of these checks. I understood that, and it surprised me a bit, honestly.
“I’m not saying I wouldn’t have picked it up, but I thought it would have taken a little longer.”
Ridder said he became more comfortable with his offensive knowledge during the last week of organized team activities – the week before the mandatory two-day minicamp practices that closed the offseason program. Falcons.
Everything, Ridder said, started to flow a little easier. The playcalls started coming out of his mouth at a faster rate. He began to see defensive coverage better, as well as understand where his receivers were supposed to be and were going to be.
This included London, which took on its own course nuances throughout the offseason. And the details were important. On Tuesday, after dropping a pass during individual reps, he stopped to go back and do the rep again instead of ignoring it.
“You need to be in the right place at the right time, aligned with your routes,” London said. “The cornerbacks, the safeties, they have to be on the right track at that point as well.”
Sometimes it’s the little things that help complete the big picture.