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Like seemingly 90% of the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons are 7-8. Their offense averages less than 19 points per game and in general, the on-field product is about as exciting as a syndicated episode of The View. Must See TV, they are not.
The Dirty Birds do however, have one player worthy of primetime billing — rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, who’s on pace for a record-breaking season.
“He’s fun to coach,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said Sunday.
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) December 26, 2021
In a 20-16 Week 16 win over Detroit, Pitts caught eight passes for 102 yards, giving him 949 receiving yards on the season, the most-ever by a Falcons tight end. With two games remaining in the regular season, Pitts is just 128 yards shy of breaking Mike Ditka’s record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end.
“It’s a long season for a rookie. Like I said, he’s just scratching the surface. He made the Pro Bowl. He broke the franchise record for most yards in a season by a tight end. And he’s just getting started. He’s a rookie. It’s a long, long year. …He’s had the right mindset,” said Smith.
Pitts had a slow start to his record-setting rookie season. He didn’t surpass 73 yards in a game until the Falcons’ fifth game. But he stayed the course, worked hard, and earned the trust of his coaches and teammates while accumulating video game numbers. “Early on, he had a great work ethic, was willing to go out there and put in the work,” said quarterback Matt Ryan, per Falcons.com. “I think there always comes that time in the season where it gets tough, and I’ve been really impressed with him pushing through that and continuing going out there and put the time in even when it becomes uncomfortable because my belief is that it pays off, and I appreciate that from him.”
Both Pitts and the Falcons have largely flown under the radar. But if the rookie tight end continues to make noise on the field, they’ll both be worth a listen. “I told him the other day when he made the Pro Bowl, he’s just scratching the surface,” added Smith. “If he can continue to improve we’ll see where this thing goes.”
Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF