Cover 9@9: Top-ranked Falcons lineman Chris Lindstrom still striving to improve

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

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Offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom speaks with the media after reporting to training camp Tuesday.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

1. The no-spin zone: Falcons right guard Chris Lindstrom, who was the highest-graded lineman on the team last season, worked on his body posture and pass protection this offseason.

Lindstrom earned an 83.7 grade from Pro Football Focus. He didn’t allow a sack and was flagged for only two penalties. Left tackle Jake Matthews, the team’s second-highest-graded lineman, received a 71.3 grade and gave up three sacks and had six penalties.

“Then just getting a better understanding of the offense, really trying to grow,” Lindstrom said. “You’re never just trying to know your assignment. You’re trying to know how and why everything works.”

Lindstrom spoke to the media Tuesday on the day veterans were scheduled to report.

“We had a great OTA period,” Lindstrom said. “I’m excited now to get back to work. Love the team. Love the atmosphere and the competitive camp that we’re going to have.”

Lindstrom is aware that the offensive line’s overall play must improve.

“I think first you always want to be accountable to the (group), so improving individually and then improving as a unit,” Lindstrom said. “Then coming together as a unit and then playing (to) the best of our abilities so we can win as a team.”

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Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom speaks to the media as he arrives for training camp Tuesday in Flowery Branch. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

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

Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom speaks to the media as he arrives for training camp Tuesday in Flowery Branch. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

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

Combined ShapeCaption
Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom speaks to the media as he arrives for training camp Tuesday in Flowery Branch. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

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

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

Lindstrom was taken 14th overall in the 2019 draft. After sustaining a broken ankle his rookie season, Lindstrom has been entrenched at right guard for the Falcons.

In May, the Falcons elected to pick up Lindstrom’s $13.2 million fifth-year option.

“I feel like I’m constantly getting better,” Lindstrom said. “I’m lucky to be a part of a great organization and have great guys around me. So, I took the offseason to really focus on improving and then everything goal-oriented is as a team, so go out there and day by day, you know, have great practices. Then try and win as many games as possible this season.”

The Falcons could secure Lindstrom’s future status with a contract extension.

“I’m really not thinking about it,” Lindstrom said. “I’m just really focusing on every day coming in here and being the best player that I can be. I love the Falcons. I love the Falcons organization. I’d love to be here forever. But I just really, every day is focused on coming in to be the best player I can be.”

The Falcons believe they can make some strides in their second year of the offense under coach Arthur Smith.

“I think it’s a totally different feel,” Lindstrom said. “We’re so comfortable with coach Smith and the staff. Year 2 of learning the offense, it’s exciting now to really be able to hit the ground running. ... I’m really excited and looking forward to that now that we’re going live and full speed.”

2. New quarterbacks: Lindstrom said the team is getting used to longtime Falcon Matt Ryan not being around anymore.

“I mean, it’s definitely different, but you just embrace the change,” Lindstrom said. “Embrace the environment. ... Everything’s great. I mean, the first day with Matt gone, it was definitely different. You could feel his presence. Him not being here was different, but you adjust to everything.”

New quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder have been working to win over the team.

“We’re really lucky with those guys,” Lindstrom said. “I mean, Dez and Marcus are true professionals. They come in every day ready to work, and as an offensive lineman, as soon as you really hear their cadence and how the mode of operation is, you know how they command things.”

The Falcons adjusted during OTAs and the mandatory minicamp.

“I mean, I feel super comfortable pretty much after just a couple of practices with those guys,” Lindstrom said. “Again, it’s going to be exciting.”

3. Training-camp grind: Even though the players don’t have the full-padded two-a-day practices anymore, there is still a lot of work to get accomplished in training camp.

“I think every practice you get done in training camp means you’re one day closer to the season,” Lindstrom said. “So, it’s like, you know, you got to go through it ... it’s a grind. There are a lot of hard parts to it, but you’re excited and looking forward to the season.”

4. Kaleb McGary’s plight: Unlike Lindstrom, right tackle Kaleb McGary didn’t have his $13.2 million fifth-year option exercised. He’s used that as motivation.

McGary also was selected in the first round of the 2019 draft (31st overall).

“I love Kaleb. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to play with him, now it’s going on four years,” Lindstrom said. “I’m so impressed with him and the way he’s come in and worked this offseason and with how great he looks. I’m super excited for him to go out there and show that because he’s really put the work in this offseason.”

5. Hall of Famer: Falcons wide receiver/running back Cordarrelle Patterson said he has been in contact with Ryan.

“It’s Matt Ryan, he’s one of the great Hall of Famers,” Patterson said. “Of course, he’s good. He’s in a good situation right now.”

The Colts have high expectations for Ryan, who played the 14 previous seasons with the Falcons.

“Nothing less than what they expected here,” Patterson said. “He’s a Hall of Famer. That’s all I can really say.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

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Falcons offensive star Cordarrelle Patterson speaks with the media after reporting to training camp Tuesday.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

6. Deion Jones reported early: Falcons linebacker Deion Jones, who was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list Thursday, reported early for training camp Tuesday.

Jones, who was second on the team with 137 tackles last season, underwent shoulder surgery this offseason.

The Falcons signed linebacker Rashaan Evans in free agency and drafted linebacker Troy Andersen in the second round (58th overall). Also, the Falcons signed veteran Nick Kwiatkoski.

Evans and Kwiatkoski have started in the NFL. Andersen is a fast linebacker like Jones, but he may need some NFL seasoning.

Evans and Mykal Walker received most of the snaps at inside linebacker in offseason workouts.

7. Front-office moves: The Falcons made five moves within their scouting department Tuesday.

Sal Conti (pro scout), Rushell Harvey (player personnel coordinator), Donavan Ellison (football analyst), James McClintock (scouting assistant) and Hakeem Smith (scouting assistant) were added to the personnel department.

Conti, who joined the Falcons in 2021, was promoted from football analyst.

Harvey joined the Falcons in 2021 as a scouting assistant on the personnel staff.

Ellison most recently served as a football operations assistant for the Panthers in 2021.

McClintock joins the Falcons after serving as the assistant director of player personnel at Auburn.

Smith served as a student assistant in the University of Pittsburgh football recruiting office from 2019-22.

8. Key dates for the Falcons

- Tuesday: First training camp practice

- Thursday: First camp practice open to public

- Aug. 12: Exhibition opener at Detroit

- Aug. 18-19: Joint practices vs. Jets in New Jersey

- Aug. 24-25: Joint practices vs. Jaguars in Flowery Branch

- Sept. 11: Season opener vs. Saints at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

9. Depth chart: Here’s the AJC’s projected depth chart as the Falcons start practice:

OFFENSE

WR – Bryan Edwards, Cordarrelle Patterson, Frank Darby, Cameron Batson, KhaDarel Hodge, Stanley Berryhill

TE – Kyle Pitts, Brayden Lenius, Tucker Fisk

LT – Jake Matthews, Rick Leonard, Tyler Vrabel, Leroy Watson

LG – Jalen Mayfield, Elijah Wilkinson, Colby Gossett, Justin Shaffer

C – Drew Dalman or Matt Hennessy, Jonotthan Harrison

RG – Chris Lindstrom, Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil

RT – Kaleb McGary, Germain Ifedi

TE – Anthony Firkser, Parker Hesse, John Raine, John FitzPatrick

WR – Drake London, Olamide Zaccheaus, Geronimo Allison, Auden Tate, Damiere Byrd, Jared Bernhardt, Tyshaun James

RB – Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams, Qadree Ollison, Caleb Huntley, Avery Williams, Tyler Allgeier

FB – Keith Smith

QB – Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, Feleipe Franks

DEFENSE

DE – Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Jalen Dalton

NT – Vincent Taylor, Anthony Rush, Timothy Horne

DE – Ta’Quon Graham, Nick Thurman, Bryce Rodgers, Derrick Tangelo

OLB – Lorenzo Carter, Jordan Brailford, Arnold Ebiketie

ILB – Deion Jones, Mykal Walker, Troy Andersen

ILB – Rashaan Evans, Dorian Etheridge, Nick Kwiatkoski, Nathan Landman

OLB – Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Quinton Bell, Rashad Smith, DeAngelo Malone, Kuony Deng

LCB – A.J. Terrell, Darren Hall, Mike Ford, Corey Ballentine, Cornell Armstrong, Lafayette Pitts

FS (Left) – Jaylinn Hawkins, Erik Harris, Dean Marlowe

SS (Right) – Richie Grant, Teez Tabor, Tre Webb

RCB – Casey Hayward, Isaiah Oliver, Dee Alford, Matt Hankins

SPECIAL TEAMS

K – Younghoe Koo

P – Bradley Pinion, Seth Vernon

LS – Liam McCullough

H – Bradley Pinion, Desmond Ridder

PR – Avery Williams, Cameron Batson

KOR – Cordarrelle Patterson, Avery Williams, Cameron Batson

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