Tight ends adjust to new role in the offense

The Falcons showed a glimpse of the re-defined role of the tight end position in the exhibition opener against Miami.

All five of the tight ends played from scrimmage in the 16-10 win over Miami. Four tight ends also played on special teams.

The great Tony Gonzalez, who retired after last season, was a main target in the passing attack and never was a regular on special teams.

Levine Toilolo, who’s listed as the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart, played 43 snaps on offense and two on special teams against the Dolphins. He was targeted three times and made two catches for 19 yards, including a long of 15.

Bear Pascoe played 19 snaps on offense and four on special teams. He caught one pass for 6 yards.

Mickey Shuler played 18 snaps on offense and 13 on special teams. He caught two passes for 19 yards.

Brian Wozniak played six snaps on offense and two on special teams.

Jacob Pederson played four snaps on offense and was the only tight end on the roster who didn’t play on special teams.

“There are some interesting battles going on in the tight end group,” tight ends coach Chris Scelfo said. “Levine, Mickey, all five of those guys are battling.”

The position will not be featured in the offense’s passing attack. Where the Falcons used to call plays for Gonzalez, the tight end this season will mostly be blockers, special teams players and check-down options.

“We are going to distribute the ball differently,” Scelfo said. “They understand their role now and it’s well-defined for our football team on offense with what we are asking the tight ends to do.”

The Falcons want to see the 6-foot, 8-inch Toilolo improve as a blocker.

“He needs to become more violent,” Scelfo said.

Shuler had a strong offseason and is off to good start in training camp.

“Mickey is one of our toughest guys,” Scelfo said. “He’s on every special teams right now. He does the special teams package and then comes over there and he’s going to fight. He’s really improved since he’s gotten here.”

Shuler bounced around the league to six teams before signing with the Falcons last September.

“Last fall he battled a lot of injuries with his finger and his hamstring, but never missed a day,” Scelfo said. “Mickey is right in the thick of it.”