FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Arthur Smith spoke to the media before the final open OTA on Thursday and noted that backup quarterback Feleipe Franks now is considered a “hybrid” player.
Franks, who signed as an undrafted college free agent in 2021, received some work at tight end. He practiced there at times last season and was used as an H-back on the punting team.
“I’ve been pleased with both quarterbacks, with what Marcus (Mariota) and Desmond (Ridder) are doing,” Smith said. “Feleipe is still working in that (meeting) room. He’s a valuable football player for us. He’ll take some reps at quarterback. Put Feleipe in that hybrid category.”
Franks played in nine games last season and had three rushes.
“He’s doing a good job with it,” Falcons tight ends coach Justin Peelle said. “He brings a unique perspective, having been in the quarterback room. I think that gives him a little bit more of an advantage as opposed to somebody else that’s trying to do it because he’s got the quarterback coaching with Charles (London).”
Franks, 6-foot-6 and 228 pounds, transferred to Arkansas as a graduate student in 2019 after losing his starting job with the Gators following an ankle injury.
He started nine games for the Razorbacks and completed 163 of 238 passes for 2,107 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2020. He made the team as the third quarterback last season behind Matt Ryan and Josh Rosen.
“Right now, it doesn’t mean that doesn’t change, but right now he’s working more at tight end than quarterback, but he also is a quarterback,” Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone said.
Franks was elevated to the No. 2 spot late last season.
“The kid works hard,” Peelle said. “He’s very attentive. He asks the right questions. It’s fun for me because everything I teach him, it’s new.”
Franks is fine with working out at tight end.
“I’m doing whatever they ask me to,” Franks said.
In the OTA on Thursday, Franks scored a touchdown on a pass thrown by Ridder in the seven-on-seven drills.
“It was fun,” Franks said of the TD grab. “It’s different.”
After the catch, he got up and spiked the ball before teammates surrounded him.
“There are a lot more things I have to learn,” Franks said. “A lot of the tight ends in the room have helped me with my route crafting and blocking. There are a ton of things I need to learn.”
OTAs to wrap up: The Falcons are set to wrap up OTAs and move on to the mandatory minicamp Tuesday through Thursday.
“It’s not like you can put the pads on,” Smith said. “Teaching and development. Guys (are) doing a good job, add some speed in the seven-on-sevens and things we are doing as a team. We’re not in full contact.”
Smith noted that the Bears were fined for OTA violations this year. Last year, Jacksonville, Dallas and San Francisco were fined for OTA violations.
“That’s not what we’re about,” Smith said. “We’re trying to build up and make sure that we’re ready to go in the summer, so we can be full throttle on July 26.”
The mandatory minicamp format will be similar to the non-contact OTAs.
In addition to the quarterbacks, several players have caught Smith’s eye.
“Damiere Byrd, (KhaDarel) Hodge, those guys in this setting, again we’ve got a long way to go,” Smith said. “I’ve been impressed with those guys. I hadn’t worked with (them) before. I like (offensive lineman Germain) Ifedi’s work habits, what he’s shown so far. Again, we’re not in pads. There have been several guys that you’ve noticed, (safety) Dean Marlowe. It’s hard with the front guys, but the guys, who you appreciate their approach every day.”
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