New Atlanta Falcons Arthur Smith finds himself in an interesting situation. The franchise is yet to commit to a total rebuild, yet they traded away star receiver Julio Jones.
After going 4-12 last season, it’s a make-or-break campaign for this Falcons roster. If they can’t challenge for a playoff berth, expect big changes next offseason.
That makes this year’s training camp crucial for the team to build some momentum heading into the 2021 NFL season. Let’s take a look at five players who could play a big role in how successful the Falcons’ 2021 season can be.
Players to watch out for during Atlanta Falcons’ training camp
#1 – Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan posted impressive stats last season, despite the Atlanta Falcons’ poor record. Ryan threw for 4,591 yards and 26 touchdowns while setting a career-high for completions.
This could be the veteran quarterback’s last season in Atlanta due to his hefty salary over the next couple of seasons. The longtime face of the Falcons will want to lead by example in 2021, starting at training camp.
#2 – Kyle Pitts
The fourth overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, tight end Kyle Pitts is set for a massive season in Atlanta. The departure of Julio Jones will only enhance Pitts’ role in the Falcons offense.
Training camp will be a great opportunity for new head coach Arthur Smith to see what his rookie tight end can do on the field. Pitts could be the star attraction at the Falcons’ training camp.
#3 – Calvin Ridley
Last season, Calvin Ridley had 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. The departure of Julio Jones will offer more opportunities for the Atlanta Falcons wide receiver.
He is more than capable of taking over Jones’ role as the leader of the Falcons offense. Ridley’s combination with Kyle Pitts could set the NFC South on fire in 2021. Look for Ridley to wow during training camp.
#4 – Dante Fowler Jr.
Dante Fowler Jr. had a disappointing season in 2020. He registered just 23 tackles, eight QB hits and only three sacks. This is a contract year for the 26-year-old which should give him extra motivation.
The Atlanta Falcons defensive end enters training camp looking for a bounce-back campaign in 2021.
#5 – A.J. Terrell
In his rookie season, A.J. Terrell showed he can be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He had 74 tackles, three forced fumbles, and seven passes defended for the Atlanta Falcons in 2020.
The second-year player will be one to watch during Falcons training camp.