The expectations were sky-high for Falcons first-round TE Kyle Pitts after he was the highest-drafted tight end ever. And for the most part, Pitts has lived up to those expectations. He has just one receiving touchdown, but he topped Tony Gonzalez‘s franchise record for receiving yards in a season with 949 and is within shouting distance of former Bears TE Mike Ditka‘s rookie record of 1,076.
“I would never have thought of a 1,000 yards,” Pitts said via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “That’s a lot of yards. In college, as a tight end, I was just content with what I was doing, but always striving to do my best. But 1,000? I was like, ‘Ehh, that might be a little tough.'”
Pitts has flown a little under the radar at times compared to other top rookies because of the lack of touchdowns and because his production has come in bunches. But he was named to the Pro Bowl, which is another massive accomplishment for a rookie tight end.
“Things can get lost like that because there was so much hype to start out with,” Falcons HC Arthur Smith said. “And it does kind of jade your thought process there. You’re saying, ‘All right, he’s supposed to do that.’ Well, it’s not easy.”
“I know it’s an easy thing to say, ‘You’re a professional and get paid,’ but some people can’t handle the hype that comes with it,” Smith added via the Athletic’s Josh Kendall. “A lot of guys in sports with that kind of hype don’t handle it well. Kyle certainly has. That’s not lost on us here.”
- Per ESPN’s David Newton, Panthers QB Sam Darnold says he’s learned a lot in his time off since getting hurt and is ready to apply it: “During that time I was hurt, I looked at all the games I played. I looked at the good, the ugly. I learned a lot from watching that tape.”
- Panthers HC Matt Rhule called QB Cam Newton the ultimate professional despite being benched for Darnold: “He had as much energy on the practice field today as anyone who was out there.” (Joe Person)
- Panthers CB Stephon Gilmore won’t play this week with a groin injury and with just two weeks left in the season, he could go on injured reserve. (Newton)
- Panthers DC Phil Snow says that his plan is to keep Jeremy Chinn playing in the defensive backfield at safety despite LB Shaq Thompson‘s status on the COVID-19 list. (Person)
- According to CBS Sports analyst and former agent Joel Corry, the Saints could tag S Marcus Williams for the second consecutive year at $12.9 million. He’s their only real candidate and they’re in better shape than last year when they shocked the NFL and used the tag.
- Corry adds Williams is probably looking to be near the top of the safety market on a long-term deal, which works out to $16-$17 million a year.