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Falcons TE Kyle Pitts tabs himself 'super rookie' as he learns new offense

2024 is the start of a new era in Atlanta, where the Falcons have a new coach and not one, but two new quarterbacks.

The novelty even extends to returning players. Just ask tight end Kyle Pitts, who is working on grasping Atlanta's new offense under coordinator Zac Robinson.

"I would say I'm a super rookie," Pitts said Tuesday, via the team's official site. "I'm not a rookie rookie. But we're all in this new offense, new regime, new schedule. We're all in this fresh."

Fresh is what the Falcons needed after wandering aimlessly through a quarterback desert in the last three years, cycling through the likes of Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke while still fighting to post three straight 7-10 seasons. Things grew worse after Ryan's departure, too, especially for Pitts, who hasn't so much as flirted with the 1,000-yard season he posted in 2021 with Ryan under center.

There's another reason for Pitts' struggles: He hasn't felt healthy for a while. The knee injury that ended his 2022 season prematurely lingered in 2023, leading to a 53-catch, 667-yard, three-touchdown campaign.

"It wouldn't say it was so much bad during the game," Pitts said. "It was more the preparation during the week, just dealing with soreness and tightness all through the week. Then, Sunday is show day, so I figured it out."

Atlanta acknowledged it couldn't continue with the same approach, firing Arthur Smith, replacing him with Raheem Morris and taking a massive swing in free agency by signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million deal. The Falcons then doubled down on the aggression in the draft when they selected Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth-overall pick, sending a clear message to the rest of the NFL that they were done living in quarterback purgatory.

While controversial, this type of dual-pronged approach -- signing an immediate, proven starter and drafting his long-term replacement in the same offseason -- should produce more success for the Falcons. Pitts, however, will have to prove he's worth keeping for the long haul, in which Penix will eventually succeed Cousins.

Luckily for Pitts, despite his struggles, Atlanta gave him a vote of confidence this offseason by picking up his fifth-year option.

"Definitely it's a blessing for the upstairs to still have faith in me," Pitts said. "I'll try to show them I can do something different this year."

Pitts is finally feeling fully healthy, and for the first time in his career, he'll prepare to run routes for a quarterback whose future isn't uncertain. It will be up to him, though, to deliver results.

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