Cover 9@9: Jarrett, Onyemata working to cause havoc up front
Atlanta Falcons defensive linemen David Onyemata (90) and Grady Jarrett (97) run a drill during OTAs at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp on June 7, 2023, in Flowery Branch, Georgia. (Miguel Martinez/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Here’s the Miami Gardens version of the Cover 9@9 blog:
1. The no spin zone: Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is looking forward to playing next to David Onyemata, who was signed in free agency.
“It’s going good,” Jarrett said. “We are learning from each other.”
Onyemata played the last seven seasons with the Saints. He signed a three-year, $35 million deal with the Falcons.
“It helps me with him having experience with coach (Ryan) Nielsen to learn certain drills and stuff like that, watch him go first and then I might go behind and do the drill,” Jarrett said. “Having somebody who knows exactly what he’s trying to accomplish helps. More than anything, it’s going to help me on Sunday having a guy like that play next to me. I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Onyemata has never been voted to a Pro Bowl, but is highly respected for his work on the interior. He’s played in 106 games and made 68 starts.
“It gives you the confidence to know that you can go out there and be the best you because the person next to you is going to handle their job,” Jarrett said. “Not only handled it, but do it a high level. I think we both can feel that and we’re both excited to go out there and do it on Sunday.”
Onyemata has been key with helping the other players know what Nielsen wants up front.
“I’ve been trying to explain to the younger guys,” Onyemata said. “I just tell them how I try to make it simple for myself and help them out.”
2. Last meeting: The Dolphins defeated the Falcons 37-17 in the last meeting in an exhibition game on Aug. 21, 2021. In the regular season, the Falcons bounced back to beat the Dolphins 30-28 on Oct. 24, 2021.
Then rookie tight end Kyle Pitts have seven catches for 163 yards to help the Falcons pull off the upset.
Younghoe Koo made a 36-yard field goal at the buzzer for the victory.
3. Phillips injured: Falcons rookie cornerbaack Clark Phillips III went down with a injury near the end of a joint practice with the Dolphins on Tuesday at Houston Baptist Training Complex.
Phillips, a fourth-round pick (138th overall) out of Utah, couldn’t put any pressure on his lower left leg and was carted off the field after an attempted pass breakup over the middle.
“He got kicked,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “You just never know. We just have to get the x-ray. Just get the imaging done and we’ll see. At least he got up on his own. We’ll get that x-ray soon.”
4. Heat index: The Dolphins and Falcons made it through one of the hottest days of the year, with the heat index shooting up 115 degrees.
“I’m very aware of what the heat index is, which is why you’ll you see in practice…we’re monitoring that stuff all the time,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “You have to communicate. You want the training. You don’t want it to be excessive that it is harmful or dangerous to people. So, I am monitoring that all the time and doing our best to stay in front of anything like that.”
5. Waddle on the Falcons: Much like the Falcons, the Dolphins are timing up their passing attack.
They hit some deep balls on the Falcons and didn’t connect on some others.
“Yeah, I feel like we started out kind of slow,” Waddle said. “Kind of found that groove mid-to-late practice. Definitely not the practice we wanted, but we can learn from it. That’s what practice is for. We can learn from it.”
Waddle had some kind words for the Falcons defensive backs.
“Yeah, they’ve got a lot of talent on that side of the ball,” Waddle said. “So, they do a good job of utilizing their guys and putting them in positions where they can win. That’s kind of the key difference. It was a good practice. Good competition.”
6. Waddle on fast track: Waddle has a chance to do what former Dolphins Mark Duper and Mark Clayton couldn’t do, get 1,000 yards receiving in three seasons in a row.
“It’s a goal,” Waddle said. Duper and Clayton both reached 1,000 in two consecutive seasons, but never three times in a row.
7. Dolphins on Wynn: The Dolphins are looking at Isaiah Wynn at guard. Wynn, who was a first-round pick (23rd overall) by the Patriots in 2018, played at Georgia.
In five seasons with the Patriots, he played in 43 games and made 40 starts, mostly at left tackle. The Dolphins signed Wynn to a one-year, $2.3 million deal in May.
He missed his rookie season after suffering a torn Achilles. He started at left tackle in 2019. He also played some left guard and right tackle.
“We are rotating guys, giving guys – I put a precedent on giving guys the opportunity and having them decide where they stand,” McDaniel said. “So, if someone’s listed as a guard, that doesn’t mean they’re not getting tackle work or vice versa.”
8. Xavien Howard on Kyle Pitts: ‘That guy is a natural’: Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, a four-time Pro Bowler, had to be brought up to speed after he was asked how Falcons quarterback Desmond Howard and the offense look after the first day of the joint practice.
“What number is he,” Howard asked. He then went on to say the Falcons did a pretty good job.
However, Howard knew exactly who tight end Kyle Pitts was.
“He wasn’t out there that much,” Howard said. “I didn’t see him that much, but when he was out there he looked good.”
Pitts caught a couple of passes across the middle for the Falcons.
“That guy is a receiver,” Howard said. “I don’t care (that) they’ve got him (listed) as a tight end. That guy can run. I see he gained a little bit more weight, a bigger frame. That guy is a natural.”
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC
9. Official depth chart: (Note: Since the team puts out a depth chart in their weekly release, that makes it “official.” You can’t it put in the release and then dub it “unofficial.”)
Rookie running back Bijan Robinson is listed as the third-string running back on the official depth chart released by the Falcons on Tuesday in advance of their exhibition season opener against the Dolphins at 7 p.m. Friday at Hard Rock Stadium.
Robinson, who was the eighth player taken overall in the NFL draft in 2023, is behind Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier on the depth chart.
Mack Hollins is listed as WR2 opposite of Drake London and Mike Hughes is listed as the No. 1 punt returner.
At left guard, Matt Hennessy is listed as the starter with rookie Matt Bergeron listed as No. 2 at the position.
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the award-winning Atlanta Falcons beat writer for the newspaper, has been on the staff since 2003. Every day D. Orlando strives to provide inside in the Falcons and the NFL. He finds the most joy in providing insight into the team, the coaching moves, the offseason business moves, the draft and the games.