With 2023 NFL training camps set to kick off the week of July 24, it's time to get up to speed on all 32 NFL teams. Bobby Kownack has the lowdown on position battles, key players and notable subplots across the NFC South:
Catch up on the Atlanta Falcons' offseason and 2023 outlook below ...
Training Camp Dates/Information
- Players report: July 18 (rookies); July 25 (veterans)
- Location: IBM Performance Field | Flowery Branch, Georgia (fan information)
Notable Roster Changes
2023 Schedule Notes
- Have the easiest strength of schedule in 2023 based on their opponents' 2022 win percentage (.417).
- One of four teams to finish with three of final four games on the road (Carolina, Chicago and New Orleans).
- One of two teams to start with two home games (Carolina, Green Bay) and finish with two road games (Chicago, New Orleans).
-- NFL Research
Subplots To Track
1) The Desmond Ridder era is set to begin in earnest. Atlanta's 2022 third-rounder did close out his rookie season with four starts, going 2-2 with 708 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, but this will be his first training camp as the undisputed QB1. The Falcons were openly uninterested in Lamar Jackson in the early stages of the offseason and didn't take a big swing in the veteran quarterback market. They appear determined to give the inexperienced Ridder every opportunity to succeed. This roster is ready to compete for the division in several other spots. If Atlanta falls short, the quarterback position will likely have something to do with it.
2) The Falcons had the most rushing attempts in the NFL last year with 559, and that's before using the No. 8 overall pick in April's draft on Bijan Robinson. The early expectation is for Atlanta to feature the do-it-all back everywhere in its attack. But will he emerge as a bell cow given the league's timeshare tendencies? Second-year RB Tyler Allgeier, no slouch himself with a 1,000-yard season already under his belt, and 32-year-old Swiss Army knife Cordarrelle Patterson also provide their share of value. Figuring exactly how that distribution plays out could turn Atlanta's preseason into appointment viewing.
3) How will tight end Kyle Pitts look in his return from the MCL injury that ended his sophomore season in Week 11? On paper, he should be one of Atlanta's top two pass catchers alongside Drake London. That's not how things shook out last year. After becoming the second rookie TE ever to produce a 1,000-yard receiving season, Pitts' encore was a clunker to the tune of 35.6 receiving yards per game. He saw just five red-zone targets. The bright side is that all of his inefficiency came with Marcus Mariota under center. The downside is that all of Ridder's snaps came after Pitts' injury, so they're starting from scratch. Their chemistry now becomes of paramount importance to a Pitts rebound.
4) Winning the offseason doesn't always translate to winning games, but the way the Falcons have spent the past several months should at least provide their fans ample opportunity for trash talk. They pulled a heist on one of their division rivals, hiring Ryan Nielsen, New Orleans' defensive line coach since 2017, as defensive coordinator. Then they added defensive tackle David Onyemata and linebacker Kaden Elliss, both former Saints. It's not a bad pool to draw from, considering Nielsen's unit has never ranked outside the top nine in sacks during his tenure in New Orleans. Add in All-Pro Calais Campbell handpicking the Falcons in the twilight of his career, plus the intrigue of Eddie Goldman re-emerging from a one-year retirement, and Atlanta has the makings of an exciting front seven -- if the pieces, both new and old, jell.
5) Spots are up for grabs behind lockdown cornerback A.J. Terrell. Darren Hall (nine starts in 2022) and Cornell Armstrong (four starts) could find themselves closer to the bubble than the front of the depth chart due to a suddenly crowded CB room, while 25-year-old former CFL player Dee Alford might be the sneakiest candidate of the holdovers to crack the lineup. Though he'd have to take an eraser to Jeff Okudah or, more likely, Mike Hughes, two former Lions who will begin camp penciled in as starters. Fourth-round rookie Clark Phillips III also has a chance to carve out a role in the completely retooled Falcons D.