The rookie tight end made the most of his first NFL opportunity.
Aug 30, 2021 at 01:29 AM
If you blinked, used the bathroom, or went to get a drink, you might have missed it, but Kyle Pitts finally made his NFL debut — and he did not disappoint.
Pitts was lined up on the left side of the offensive line and quickly ran to the right as the ball was snapped. When Browns linebacker Elijah Lee chased after Feleipe Franks, Pitts was left wide open in the flat for a dump-off pass, and he quickly showed why he was the No.4 overall pick.
He turned upfield, but stumbled to keep from going out of bounds. Two Browns defenders looked like they may tackle him before he could get going, but Pitts’ 4.4 speed prevailed. He quickly pulled away before being hit by two Browns defenders, who he carried for a few yards resulting in a 27-yard reception.
That was the end of the night for Pitts. And while he made the play look easy, inside, he was nervous.
“I felt like my heart was moving faster than my legs,” Pitts admitted post-game. “It was just fun being out there being in that atmosphere and being with some guys out there that push me every play.”
And while it did not seem to look like he was nervous on the field, who could blame him for having jitters? When the Falcons rolled onto the field for the first play of the game, the lights dimmed in Mercedes Benz Stadium, and a hype video featuring Pitts played. It seemed like every fan in the stadium was either on their feet or on the edge of their seat. And as the play happened, the stadium was louder than it was the entire night.
Despite all that was going on while he was on the field, Pitts admitted that he often can’t hear outside noise when he is playing but said when he goes back and watches, he will look at the crowd reaction.
Pitts said he did not know how much he would be playing on Sunday before the game but that each week he’s “been preparing and staying ready to play,” so when his number was called, he was excited to get out and compete.
“I love competing,” he said. “Anytime I have a good chance to go against anyone else, it’s always a good time.”
Falcons coach Arthur Smith’s reasoning for playing Pitts in was simply to get him a rep before the regular season.
“We didn’t want his first snap to be against Philly,” Smith said. “He’s done a nice job all preseason. We try to be smart with guys, create true competition and evaluate those guys. We gave him a small little package and let him go. Of course, him and Hayden [Hurst] wanted to play the whole game, but we gotta make those decisions. Small sample size, but it was good to get him a catch.”
The one catch earned Pitts the player of the game, though he said he thought it should have gone to Juwan Green, who led the team in receiving with three receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown.
“That was a bit strange,” he said with a laugh, “but I was appreciative of it.”
As the Falcons head into Week 1, Pitts said that the “speed and the atmosphere” even in his short time on the field helped prepare him for the Falcons first game against his hometown Philadelphia Eagles.
“I think there’s always room for improvement,” he said. “Each week, there’s something better you can do, and after I see what I did in this game, I’m going to try to make it better for game one.”