Falcons rookies impress in NFL debut

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The Falcons didn’t come out of Week 1 as they’d hoped, but there was plenty to be excited about despite blowing a 16-point fourth-quarter lead to their most hated rivals. Atlanta’s offensive line looked competent, the defense pressured Jameis Winston all afternoon, and the team’s rookie class contributed in all three phases, impressing in their NFL debut.

Drake London led the Falcons in receiving in his first game ever — hauling in five receptions on seven targets (tied for the most with Kyle Pitts) for 74 yards, averaging 14.8 per catch, with his longest being a 31-yard catch and run. He came as advertised. The big-bodied receiver made several contested catches and hurt the New Orleans defense after the catch.

Arnold Ebiketie is an exciting edge defender and is the future of the Falcons’ pass rush. He’s one of the most promising prospects Atlanta has acquired in years. In his professional debut, the self-proclaimed Doctor of Pass Rush looked strong, tallying three pressures and the first sack of his career while playing only 43% of the defensive snaps. Hopefully, as the season progresses, his role grows because he looks like the real deal.

The only other Falcons rookie draft pick that played significant snaps was Troy Andersen, who was tied for the team lead in special teams snaps. However, that shouldn’t be surprising. He’ll be a staple in the third phase of the game for the entire season, similarly to Richie Grant‘s role as a first-year player.

Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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