Falcons rookie receiver Casey Washington hoping to make an impact

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Casey Washington (82) runs after a catch during the Atlanta Falcons Rookie Minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / AJC)

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

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

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Casey Washington (82) runs after a catch during the Atlanta Falcons Rookie Minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Last year around this time, only a select few folks knew about Puka Nacua, who was selected in the middle rounds of the NFL draft.

“Yeah, I know who that is,” Falcons rookie wide receiver Casey Washington said Friday. “It’s great to see the success that he’s had and knowing that it was in this offense.”

Nacua, who was 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, was selected in the fifth round (177th overall) last year by the Rams out of BYU and Washington. He went on to catch 105 passes for 1,486 yards and six touchdowns last season. He was named to the Pro Bowl and to the PFWA all-rookie team.

Washington, who’s 6-foot and 200 pounds, was selected in the sixth round (187th overall) of the 2024 draft by the Falcons.

Falcons coach Raheem Morris came from the Rams and brought Zac Robinson to be the offensive coordinator to install Rams coach Sean McVay’s offense.

“This offense is super exciting for me,” said Washington, who played in 55 games over his career at Illinois and caught 122 passes for 1,508 yards (12.4 per catch) and four touchdowns. “But you know, if you get caught up in comparing yourself, you could lose sight of really what matters. So, for me, it’s just taking it one day at a time, learning this playbook and just competing. Getting out there and being the best me.”

Washington ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds and had a 39.5-inch vertical jump.

He’s trying to learn as much as he can from his position coach, Ike Hilliard.

“The opportunity that I have right now to grow and just absorb and be a sponge from these guys,” Washington said. “Just take it one day at a time, and I’m going to enjoy it.”

Credit: WSBTV Videos

FIRST LOOK: Michael Penix Jr. makes Falcons practice debut

Washington was honored to catch passes from rookie left-handed quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

“It’s definitely different, but as a receiver, it’s to see ball, get ball,” Washington said. “So, when that ball is in the air, I just have to attack it and make a play.”

Penix already has started to put in extra work with the wide receivers.

“He’s awesome,” Washington said. “Yesterday, we actually, in the group chat, he hit us up for a walk-through, and we just went over the plays. I think him early on getting us out there as a group and showing himself as a leader was special. Obviously, (knowing) who he is as a football player is also there. Just to get out here and compete with each other. It was pretty special.”

Washington, who’s father, Greg, played at Kansas State, is getting acclimated to the NFL.

“There are a lot of stars,” Washington said. “Like Kirk Cousins, seeing him in the locker room. In this football space, I guess, we’re going along the journey of going to the all-star games and getting around, you know, guys that you know, that have this kind of platform. At first, you could be like wow, they’re awesome. But they’re just normal people. They’re super, super humble guys. They work hard, and they’re just my teammates now. So, I’m excited.”

Washington played outside at Illinois, but plans to learn all of the receiver positions for the Falcons.

“But as much as I can learn in the playbook and take in, I’m willing to play everything,” Washington said. “I know I want to play everything. So, just getting in the playbook is big for me right now and learning as much as possible.”

That will be a daunting task.

“If you look at the iPad, they gave us an iPad with the playbook,” Washington said. “You could get kind of blown away from how much is in there. My whole approach is just one step at a time. So, getting this practice script today and taking that in. Getting with guys and going over the script. ... Just getting as many mental reps as possible.”

Penix felt it was a good move to get the receivers together.

“Just last night, I knew for me, I was very confident in the playbook and the script that we had (on Friday),” Penix said. “We all got the script yesterday. I just wanted to allow all of the guys to get comfortable. Some of the guys said they didn’t get the playbook until (Thursday), so they had a lot of catching up to do.

“So, for me, I knew I was going to come out there and go through the script. I was about to go out there by myself. How does that make me a leader if I’m not bringing other people along. I was just bringing the guys along. I texted the group chat and the whole crew came out.”

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