Falcons TE Kyle Pitts Expected To Be Healthy By Week 1

The start of the Desmond Ridder era on offense in Atlanta will include several questions about the quarterback’s ability to retain the full-time starting role. He is likely to have one of the team’s top skill-position players available to start the season, though.

Head coach Arthur Smith expects tight end Kyle Pitts to be fully healthy in time for Week 1, as detailed by Scott Bair of the team’s website. No definitive timeline is in place at the moment, but that confidence is of course positive news for the Falcons and their highly-touted seam-stretcher.

Pitts has been dealing with a hamstring issue, a separate ailment from the MCL tear he suffered in Week 11 of the 2022 campaign. The latter injury cost the 22-year-old the remainder of his second season in the NFL, and prevented the Year 2 jump many were expecting him to make in terms of production. Returning to full health in time for the fall could set Pitts up for a strong showing in 2023, however.

The Florida product entered the league with massive expectations as the No. 4 pick in his draft year. Pitts earned a Pro Bowl nod after recording 68 catches and 1,026 yards as a rookie, although he was only able to find the endzone once in 2021. His touchdown total doubled last season, but Pitts’ catch percentage (47.5%) and yards per reception average (12.7) both took signficant steps back compared to the previous year.

Atlanta made a number of moves to upgrade their defense during free agency, but they turned to the draft once again to add playmakers on offense. For the third consecutive year, the Falcons used their top selection on a skill-position player (Pitts in 2021, receiver Drake London in 2022 and running back Bijan Robinson this past April). That trio will be leaned on heavily as the team looks to return to the postseason, though trade acquisition Jonnu Smith will provide the Falcons with a veteran at the TE spot who can contribute in run blocking in particular.

Bair notes that the Ridder-led offense will likely involve more balance compared to the pass-happy scheme used with Matt Ryan under center and the very run-heavy approach employed with Marcus Mariota at the helm for most of last season. That should leave plenty of targets available for Pitts, whose participation in training camp starting later this month will be worth watching closely.

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