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Falcons' Pitts: 'I'm a super rookie' ahead of 4th year

Alex Slitz / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Atlanta Falcons star tight end Kyle Pitts may be preparing for his fourth NFL season but is approaching the 2024 campaign as if it's his first.

"I would say I'm a super rookie," Pitts said earlier this week, according to team reporter Terrin Waack. "I'm not a rookie rookie. But we're all in this new offense, new regime, new schedule. We're all in this fresh."

There are plenty of new faces within the Falcons locker room this season. Raheem Morris is now the team's head coach, and Zac Robinson was named the club's offensive coordinator. Pitts will also have a fresh face in the offensive huddle after Atlanta signed free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins. The addition of rookie signal-caller Michael Penix Jr. creates an intriguing dynamic despite the club's affirmation that Cousins will be under center for the immediate future.

Pitts, a former first-round pick, may be reminiscing about his rookie campaign, which proved to be his most productive to date. The Florida product hauled in 68 receptions for 1,026 yards and a touchdown, earning himself a 2021 Pro Bowl nod.

The 6-foot-6, 246-pound tight end struggled to replicate those numbers in the following two seasons. A knee injury in Atlanta's Week 11 matchup against the Chicago Bears ended Pitts' 2022 campaign, hurting his outputs. Although he was active for all 17 games last season, the 23-year-old admits he wasn't completely healthy despite recording a career-high three touchdowns to go along with 53 catches for 667 yards.

Pitts said it wasn't the games that hurt him, but the effort leading up to them. "It was more the preparation during the week, just dealing with soreness and tightness all through the week," he said. "Then Sunday is show day, so I figured it out."

But Pitts now declares himself healthy as the team prepares for OTAs. The Falcons front office displayed confidence in the Philadelphia native by picking up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract that will carry a base salary of $10.8 million in 2025, per Over the Cap.

"Definitely it's a blessing for the upstairs to still have faith in me," Pitts said. "I'll try to show them I can do something different this year."

Pitts joins Drake London and Bijan Robinson as part of the Falcons' young, talented nucleus. Atlanta aims to improve on a 7-10 mark in 2023 that extended the team's playoff drought to six seasons.

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