For those outside the Falcons organization, there’s very little optimism regarding the team’s outlook for 2022. After finishing with a losing record for four straight seasons, it’s hard to see that changing anytime soon with so many key losses on offense and defense.
The only way for Atlanta to turn things around this year is for the team’s young players to step up. Richie Grant, who didn’t get as much playing time as many anticipated during his rookie season, is looking to turn things around.
The second-year safety wants to give the city something to look forward to in 2022.
“Oh I told [Arthur Smith] earlier, this is the best idea [open practice at Mercedes-Benz] we ever had, man. Come out here and practice with the fans? It’s beautiful,” stated an energetic Grant after Friday’s open practice at the Falcons’ home stadium. “It gives you a little extra juice, you know what I’m saying? And then you give the city something to look forward to.”
Atlanta has some talented young pieces that should be around for a long time. Grant, who was selected in the second round in 2021, hopes to be a part of that group. Asked what has changed for him entering year two, the former UCF standout said he’s feeling more calm.
“I’d say just a little more calm. I was always ready to play, just a little more calm. Just taking it slow. Each play, letting it come to me. I’m just making sure I get my communication out. We all communicate on defense, but it’s just way more calm this year.”
Being more calm is a welcoming sign because you can run yourself out of a play by being too quick and not allowing the play to come to you. On occasions last season, Grant took himself out of plays by doing just that. So, it’s possible that a calmer approach could help him develop into the player Atlanta envisioned him to be.
As second-year tight end Kyle Pitts spoke on as well, Grant said the players are learning to lean on each other. In the past, there have been key veterans to take charge, but that torch has been passed down to younger guys like A.J. Terrell and Pitts.
“I say we all lean on each other,” said Grant. “It’s a bunch of new guys, it’s a different group. It’s pretty much about building chemistry right now, and trying to play as fast as we can.”