Kyle Pitts, Desmond Ridder working on connecting in the passing game

LONDON — On his last trip to London, Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts put on a show.

The Falcons (2-1) will seek to unleash their dynamic tight end when they face the Jaguars (1-2) at 9:30 a.m. EDT Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

In the fifth game of his NFL career, Pitts caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in a 27-20 win over the Jets at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2021.

The Falcons were without wide receivers Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, and quarterback Matt Ryan went to the rookie tight end repeatedly, including for a big 39-yard gain to jump-start a key fourth-quarter drive. That was Pitts’ breakout game in the NFL, as expectations were high after he became the highest drafted tight end in the NFL’s modern era (No. 4 overall in 2021).

“It was fun, you don’t really notice those numbers until it’s done,” Pitts told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. “I was just out there having fun and competing. That’s about it.”

He still has fond memories of that game.

“The environment,” Pitts said. “All of the different jerseys. People smiling. There was no bias. Just everybody having fun out there.”

Pitts sustained a torn medial collateral ligament during the 11th game of the season in 2022. The injury required surgery, and he was on injured reserve when quarterback Desmond Ridder started the last four games. Pitts had a return-to-play plan that focused on being ready at the start of the season.

It’s clear, after Ridder missed a wide-open Pitts on the second series Sunday against Detroit, that they still are working on their chemistry and connections in the passing attack.

“I feel like it’s coming along well,” Pitts said of his connection with Ridder. “This is my first year playing with Des. So, we are still (working on it). Everything is growing. The relationship is growing. Off the field is great. It’s a long season, and we’re putting it together.”

Pitts has only nine catches for 100 yards and no touchdowns through three games this season. He and the rest of the wide receivers have been staying patient.

“Just because we are all chasing the same common goal,” Pitts said. “We’re trying to win. Things will come. It’s not about trying to force it. You have to let the game come to you.”

During the past week of practice, Ridder and Pitts have spent time working on their passing connection.

“Just working on our routes and what we needed to do,” Ridder said.

They are hoping the work pays off against the Jaguars.

“But at the end of the day, it’s about going out there and executing,” Ridder said. “It’s not a one-man game; it’s not a two-man game with me and Kyle out there.

“It’s all 11 out there on the offense executing, getting the play called, getting the ball snapped, blocking upfront, receivers running their routes and me delivering a ball. At the end of the day, that’s all we need to do is go out there and execute.”

The Falcons are seeing progress in practice.

“I think you saw some signs of (improvement), as I said earlier in the week,” coach Arthur Smith said. “Nothing to write home about, but it’s starting to show in the drop-back connection in the passing game, the timing and all of that stuff as Kyle continues to work back to full (from being injured). Him and Des will get that connection right.”

The Falcons essentially have a young offense at the skill positions.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys with skill,’ Smith said. “We have veterans on the (offensive) line. When you have a lot of young guys at skill positions, you need to continue to improve.”

Pitts senses that things are coming together.

“Just play by play, we have to come together and execute,” Pitts said. “Each play. Each drive. Coming out of the red zone with points.”

After his touchdown against the Jets, Pitts played like was sipping tea during his celebration. He has another idea planned for the Jaguars.

“I need to score first,” Pitts said.

While working things out on the football field, Pitts also has some family news. He and his longtime partner are expecting the birth of a boy in November.

“It’s good, but right now just focusing on the game,” Pitts said. “The baby is due in November.”

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