Cover 9@9: 5 things to know about Falcons as OTAs start

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith instructs during Day 2 of Falcons rookie minicamp at Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Saturday, May 13, 2023, in Flowery Branch. (Hyosub Shin /



Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith instructs during Day 2 of Falcons rookie minicamp at Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Saturday, May 13, 2023, in Flowery Branch. (Hyosub Shin /

1. The no-spin zone: The Falcons started their OTAs on Tuesday, and there will be weekly media access with the mandatory minicamp (June 13-15) to wrap up the offseason.

The team then will reconvene in late July for training camp:

Here’s what you need to know about OTAs and mandatory minicamp:

Phase 3 of OTAs. These are six hours a day, for four weeks total. Three weeks for 10 total OTAs. A maximum of three OTAs each week for the first two weeks. During Weeks 1 and 2 a fourth non-OTA workout is allowed, but Phase 2 rules apply. In that phase, on-field workouts may include individual or group instruction and drills, as well as “perfect play drills,” and drills and plays with offensive players lining up across from offensive players and defensive players lining up across from defensive players, conducted at a walk-through pace. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted. There is a maximum of four OTAs for the third or fourth week.

One week for minicamp. No pads except protective knee and elbow pads, helmets are permitted. No live contact. 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills will be permitted, provided no live contact takes place.

“Contact work is prohibited in all workouts (e.g. “live” blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run, etc.),” according to the NFLPA. “Intensity and tempo of drills should be at a level conducive to learning, with player safety as the highest priority.”

Mandatory minicamp. The rules for the mandatory minicamp include work for 10 hours a day. Physicals June 12, but no practice. Practices June 13-15.

The rules allow two practices totaling 3.5 hours on the field per day. The second practice is limited to walk-through activities only.

Attendance. The OTAs are voluntary, but attendance was near 100% last year, with a few players electing to work out at home.

Defensive line watch: The Falcons concentrated on improving their defensive line over the offseason through free agency and the draft. They also had defensive tackle Eddie Goldman come out of retirement.

Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Bud Dupree and Joe Graziano signed in free agency. Also, defensive end Zach Harrison was added in the third round of the draft.

2. Injury report: Here are the players who ended the season on injured reserve – running back Caleb Huntley (ruptured Achilles), tight ends Kyle Pitts (knee surgery) and John FitzPatrick (feet), guards Jalen Mayfield (back) and Justin Shaffer (high ankle sprain) and defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham (knee).

3. Bill Walsh Diversity Fellowships: Jimmy Beal, Yosef Fares, B.J. Johnson and Kevin Whitley will serve Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowships with the Falcons leading to the 2023 season.

Beal recently was named the running backs coach at San Diego State.

Fares is the head coach at Justin Garza High School in Fresno, California.

Johnson serves as the wide receivers coach at Georgia Southern.

Whitley is Georgia Southern’s assistant head coach/cornerbacks.

The Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship program is used by NFL clubs during training camps, offseason workout programs and minicamps to give coaches opportunities to observe, participate, gain experience and earn full-time NFL coaching positions.

The Falcons have six assistant coaches on the staff who have participated in the program: linebackers coach Frank Bush, special projects/defense coach Mario Jeberaeel, running backs coach Mike Pitre, offensive assistant Steven King, assistant wide receivers coach Nick Perry and special-teams coordinator Marquice Williams.

4. Joint practices: The Falcons will hold joint practices with the Dolphins on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9 before they play in an exhibition game Aug. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Falcons held joint practices with the Jets and Jaguars in 2022 and with the Dolphins in 2021.

5. Former Eagles high pick added: Wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, a former second-round pick by the Eagles, signed with the Falcons on Monday.

Arcega-Whiteside was among several players who tried out for the team during the recent rookie minicamp. The team placed wide receiver Jared Bernhardt on the reserve/retired list Monday.

The 57th pick in the 2019 draft, Arcega-Whiteside has caught 16 passes for 290 yards and a touchdowns in 40 career games. He was on Seattle’s practice squad last season.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

6. Falcons going global: The Falcons, through the league’s Global Markets Program, became the fifth NFL team to be granted international marketing rights in Germany. The move was approved by the international committee at the 2023 spring meeting in Minneapolis on Monday.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to help grow the NFL internationally,” Falcons president, Greg Beadles said in press release from the NFL. “The league and the clubs have put a lot of effort into cultivating fan bases overseas, and we are all seeing positive results from that effort. We view this as a long-term investment in continuing to grow the game of football and look forward to helping introduce America’s game to new audiences.”

The Saints were awarded France.

“New Orleans and France have enjoyed a unique cultural connection for centuries, and we are excited about working with the NFL and our partners in France to grow the game of American football,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said. “In addition to having the opportunity to market our team in France, we are looking forward to promoting our city and state and driving investment in local and regional businesses.”

NFL teams are allowed to apply for rights to select international markets. Teams are awarded rights for at least a five-year term.

7. Camp Grady: Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is set to host his eighth annual “Grady Gives Weekend” from June 8-10 in Buford and in Rockdale County.

The golf tournament will be held to raise funds and support initiatives such as literacy awareness, anti-bullying, pediatric cancer research and young adults finding their purpose in life.

Grady Jarrett’s 8th Annual Celebrity TopGolf Tournament will be held from 6-9 p.m. June 8 at Top Golf Buford.

A football combine for high school students will be held June 9 at Rockdale County High School. The performance data and images will be given to each athlete to enhance their college applications and sports portfolios.

Jarrett was an underrecruited player, and this is his way of giving back.

For elementary, middle, and high school athletes will be taught life skills by emphasizing the importance of discipline, hard work, and dedication June 10 at Rockdale County High.

Registration is required for the combine and the life-skills sessions at

“Being able to share our blessings and to give back to the community is something that has always been a priority for me and my family,” Jarrett said in a press release. “Our annual Grady Jarrett Youth Football Camp has proven to have a great impact on the youth, which is why we decided to add our first Grady Jarrett Combine this year. We look forward to continuing to have a positive impact in our community and leading our youth through sports.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

8. Gray participated in accelerator program: Jerry Gray, the Falcons’ assistant head coach/defense, is among the 40 diverse coaching candidates who will participate in the Coach Accelerator program next week at the NFL’s spring meetings in Minneapolis.

The program, which was held in Atlanta last year for the first time, is designed to give minority coaching and general manager candidates access and exposure to owners and executives with the opportunity to build relationships.

Gray participated in the program last season when was a member of the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff. In all, eight coaches and three executives who participated in the program in Atlanta were hired in new roles, including new Tennessee general manager Ran Carthon.

In addition to Gray, 15 of the 40 participants attended last May.

“In the year since its inception, we’ve been encouraged by the positive response to the accelerator from both club owners and participants,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to build on an incredible program that supports diverse talent.”

9. Depth chart: Here’s what the updated depth chart looks like after rookie minicamp (with the XFLers):


QB – Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside, Austin Aune

RB – Tyler Allgeier, Bijan Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Avery Williams, *Caleb Huntley, Carlos Washington Jr.

FB – Keith Smith, Clint Ratkovich

WR – Drake London, KhaDarel Hodge, Frank Darby, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Justin Marshall

TE – *Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Parker Hesse, Feleipe Franks, *John FitzPatrick, Tucker Fisk

LT – Jake Matthews, Barry Wesley

LG – Kyle Hinton, Matt Hennessy, *Jalen Mayfield, *Justin Shaffer, Matthew Bergeron

C – Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil, Jonotthan Harrison, Jovaughn Gwyn

RG – Chris Lindstrom, Jovaughn Gwyn

RT – Kaleb McGary, Tyler Vrabel, Joshua Miles, Ethan Greenidge

WR – Mack Hollins, Scotty Miller, Slade Bolden, Josh Ali, Keilahn Harris, Xavier Malone


OLB – Lorenzo Carter, Bud Dupree, DeAngelo Malone

DE – Grady Jarrett, Timothy Horne, LaCale London

NT – Eddie Goldman, *Ta’Quon Graham, Jalen Dalton

DE – David Onyemata, Joe Gaziano, Ikenna Enechukwu

OLB – Calais Campbell, Ade Ogundeji, Arnold Ebiketie, Zach Harrison

ILB – Kaden Elliss, Dorian Etheridge, Tae Davis, Andre Smith Jr.

ILB – Troy Andersen, Mykal Walker, Nate Landman, Mike Jones Jr.

CB – A.J. Terrell, Mike Hughes, Natrone Brooks, Clark Phillips III

FS – Jessie Bates III, Jaylinn Hawkins, Micah Abernathy, Lukas Denis

SS – Richie Grant, Jamal Peters, DeMarcco Hellams, Clifford Chattman

CB – Jeff Okudah, Cornell Armstrong, Tre Flowers, Dee Alford, Darren Hall

NB – Mike Hughes, Clark Phillips III


K – Younghoe Koo

P/H – Bradley Pinion

LS – Liam McCullough

PR – Avery Williams

KOR – Cordarrelle Patterson or Avery Williams

Note: Players who ended the season on injured reserve have an asterisk.