Rush, 26, had played 33% of Atlanta’s defensive snaps this season. Weighing north of 360 pounds, Rush worked as a run-stopper with the rebuilding team. Pro Football Focus had graded Rush outside the top 100 among interior defensive linemen, however. The former UDFA started six games for the Falcons last year, after coming over from the Titans midseason. He has played with five teams since coming into the league in 2019.
Grady Jarrett continues to work as the Falcons’ D-line mainstay, while 2021 fifth-round pick Ta’Quon Graham has seen his defensive snap rate rise to 63% this season. Marlon Davidson, a 2020 second-rounder, remains on IR after undergoing arthroscopic surgery late in the offseason. Journeyman Abdullah Anderson and rookie Timmy Horne, who have each been rotational players in Pees’ second season in Atlanta, could see more playing time as a result of this somewhat surprising Rush transaction.
For the first time since 2008, the Falcons will have a starting quarterback not named Matt Ryanwhen the upcoming season begins. The team added Marcus Mariotaas a short-term solution at the position, then drafted Desmond Ridderas a long-term option to succeed him.
The former has starting experience dating back to his time with the Titans, and will look to establish himself as a No. 1 again after two years as a backup with the Raiders. The latter, meanwhile, had an historic career at Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats to the CFP playoffs in 2021. Their lack of a track record at the NFL level made the Falcons a candidate to add a camp arm, but the team is investing fully in their top two passers.
As detailed by D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, training camp reps will be split between Mariota and Ridder, with Feleipe Franksprimarily focusing on his transition to TE. “When you look at it in terms of the quarterbacks for live periods of practice, there is not a lot [of] taxing amount of periods where the ball is being thrown,” said offensive coordinator Dave Ragonewhen speaking about a concentrated workload for the pair. With little expected of the team in 2022, dividing the reps only two ways is a sensible step for the Falcons as they search for a new franchise signal-caller.
Here are a few other notes from the Peach State, both from Ledbetter’s positional breakdowns:
The Falcons ranked 31st in the league in rushing last season, so their attempts at improving their ground game will be the subject of much attention this year. Cordarrelle Pattersonis set to return, after he totalled a career-best 1,166 scrimmage yards in 2021. He will not enter camp as the undisputed No. 1 back, however; RBs coach Mike Pitre said that there will be a “wide open” competition involving the veteran Swiss Army knife, free agent signing Damien Williams, and younger options like rookie Tyler Allgeierand Avery Williams, who is converting from cornerback. Head coach Arthur Smith did add, however, that the Falcons will “continue to try to enhance ” Patterson’s overall role in the offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, nose tackle will be another positional battle to watch. Either Vincent Taylor0rAnthony Rushwill earn a starting spot alongside Grady Jarrett in the heart of the d-line. Eddie Goldmanwas the most experienced option for a first-team role until his unexpected retirement decision was confirmed earlier this week. Taylor and Rush have each bounced around to multiple teams in their careers, but will have an opportunity for significant snaps in their debut seasons with the Falcons, who ranked 27th against the run in 2021.
Five quarterbacks now reside on the Packers’ 90-man roster. After participating in Green Bay’s minicamp on a tryout basis this week, Jake Dolegala signed with the team, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
Dolegala joinedJordan Loveand recently signed QBs Blake Bortles andKurt Benkertin Packers workouts this week. Dolegala may end up sticking around through training camp, though this scenario may be contingent on another player’s status.
Aaron Rodgersdid not show for Packers minicamp, beginning his long-rumored holdout, and the reigning MVP has shown no signs of budging in his quest to leave Green Bay. Despite substantial fines on tap for training camp absences, Rodgers not turning up in late July is a very real possibility.
The Packers entered their offseason program with only Love as a willing quarterback participant, having not kept previous Rodgers backup Tim Boyle as a restricted free agent. Boyle is now in Detroit. The team’s QB depth chart now looks considerably different.
A four-year starter at Central Connecticut State, Dolegala went to training camp with the Bengals in 2019 and ’20 but has yet to throw a regular-season pass. The 6-foot-7 QB then bounced on and off the Patriots’ practice squad last season. New England parted ways with the 24-year-old passer shortly after the draft.
Defensive lineman Anthony Rush is expected to be waived to make room for Dolegala, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets. Rush played in one game with the Packers last season and has suited up for 14 over the past two years, spending 2019 with the Eagles and part of 2020 with the Seahawks.