Falcons receiver Laquon Treadwell’s new perspective pays off

Falcons receiver Laquon Treadwell ran a short 4-yard stick route before catching a quick throw from quarterback Matt Ryan. From there, with only five yards to run for a touchdown, Treadwell had nothing but determination in his mind.

First, he bounced off Los Angeles Chargers safety Nasir Adderley’s attempted tackle. Then he ran through linebacker Kenneth Murray’s attempt at the goal line. Treadwell not only recorded his first catch with the Falcons, the play happened to go for a touchdown.

“I knew I was close to the end zone, but I didn’t know how close because I had my back to the end zone,” Treadwell said. “Once I was able to turn around and see the picture of what was going on, I was just determined to get in regardless of what happened.”

Treadwell was pleased with the score in the moment, but was upset at yet another Falcons loss -- this time a 20-17 defeat to the Chargers on Sunday. Treadwell has been on the Falcons’ 53-man roster for the past two weeks, elevated after receiver Olamide Zaccheaus went on injured reserve because of a toe injury.

Treadwell, who caught 65 passes for 701 yards and two touchdowns in four seasons with the Vikings, likely never imagined he would end spend as much time on a team’s practice squad as he did this year. After all, he was a former first-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016. However, once his rookie contract expired last season, he wasn’t re-signed, which put him on the free-agent market.

This offseason, the Falcons signed him and had initial plans to make him a depth receiver and special-teams contributor. However, after training camp, Treadwell didn’t make the first 53-man roster. After the opener, he was brought back to the practice squad and spent the majority of the season there.

Going from a first-round pick to another team’s practice squad was a learning experience. But it’s one Treadwell said taught him a valuable lesson.

“Regardless of what round you went in, you still have to come out and work,” Treadwell said. “You have to come out and be a great teammate. Just keeping everything in perspective is what I really learned through my process in the NFL. Things vary, careers go through highs and lows. But if you keep it in perspective and continue to work, eventually everything will work.

“I just try to keep that in my mind and try to put my best foot forward every time I step on the field or in a meeting room or while studying film.”

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris comments on former first-round pick and his contributions for Atlanta this season.

Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said Treadwell has handled himself like a “absolute professional” since becoming a member of the Falcons. Without the full offseason of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Morris said Treadwell needed to learn some of the nuances of how receivers are used in the Falcons’ offense.

After seeing zero snaps against the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago, Treadwell was on the field for eight plays against the Chargers. Without Zaccheaus, and with Jones missing two days of practice this week because of a hamstring injury, it’s possible that number could increase Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“He’s able to go out there and practice and actually execute what Matt Ryan is saying in the huddle and hearing his voice and doing it over and over and over again,” Morris said. “You really get a good feel for the kid and get him a chance to get out there and play. Then, he had a chance to go out (last) week and have some production.

“I’m really fired up where he can go and what he can do. We look forward to seeing more Laquon this week.”

Said Ryan: “He’s worked really hard all year, and he’s a great teammate. He came in and did a nice job for us in the run game. You like to see guys rewarded for their hard work all year. He carried guys into the end zone, that was great to see.”

If Treadwell sees more of the field during the final three games of the 2020 season, he plans to use that opportunity as an audition to prove that he can be a valuable member of any franchise.

“I just have to continue to come out and be the best teammate, work my butt off and keep everything in perspective and just go out and learn, continue to pick the brains of the receivers of the room and let them help me help them, and keep getting better,” Treadwell said.

“Regardless of what happens, it’s been a good run. I’m just excited to go out and continue to work.”