Anthony Firkser leans on experience to mentor young Falcons tight ends

Falcons tight end Anthony Firkser (86) is shown during minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Falcons tight end Anthony Firkser (86) is shown during minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Signed by the Falcons in free agency, Anthony Firkser brings value to the team in and out of the locker room as the most experienced tight end on the roster.

Coming out of Harvard as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Firkser had a slow start finding his fit in the NFL. He was signed and waived after a four-month stint with the New York Jets. He also spent time on the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad before settling in with the Tennessee Titans, where he played from 2018-21.

Last season as a Titan, Firkser played in 15 games, recording 34 receptions, 291 yards and two touchdowns before he was released in the offseason. In April, he found a new home with the Falcons.

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With mandatory minicamp wrapping up this week and training camp looming at the end of July, Firkser already has found comfort in his new home.

“There are a bunch of Titans players here, so it’s good to get to reconnect with them,” Firkser said. “Marcus (Mariota), Rashaan (Evans), they signed Jeremy McNichols, they signed (Cameron) Batson and Beau Brinkley. It’s good seeing old faces, and all the guys with the Falcons have been welcoming, so it’s been enjoyable to be around this team.”

Firkser played under now second-year Falcons coach Arthur Smith from 2018-20, when Smith served as the tight ends coach and offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. With this relationship, Firkser is very familiar with the Falcons’ offense and how Smith plans to run this team.

Seeing his leadership in Nashville, Smith is confident that Firkser will carry his experience to the Falcons.

“He’s a guy that has been fun to work with. I’m happy to work with him again,” Smith said. “He’s been with me now in three different roles: tight-end coach, offensive coordinator and now head coach, so he can kind of come fill in the blanks sometimes, so we are happy to have him.”

The Falcons look to continue ramping up production from the tight ends on the roster going into the 2022 season to build a more fruitful pass game.

Last year’s star of the tight end group was Kyle Pitts, who exceeded expectations throughout his rookie season. The No. 4 overall draft pick last year, Pitts had 68 catches, 1,026 yards, and one touchdown and was one of two Falcons selected to the Pro Bowl.

With only Pitts and Parker Hesse going into their second seasons and the rest of the tight ends gearing up for their first year playing in the NFL, Firkser plans to use his five years of experience to mentor this offseason and beyond.

“I’ve had guys like Delanie (Walker) in my (meeting) room (in Tennessee) who I was able to learn with, learn from,” Firkser said. “I think just having that experience and knowledge of seeing these plays and how they played out against defenses and against schemes, I could help give a couple of pointers of something that I see that could help the younger guys out.”