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Sport: Falcons name Marcus Mariota starting QB

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This will not qualify as particularly surprising news, but the Falcons have named Marcus Mariota their starting quarterback. On the first day of training camp earlier this week, quarterbacks coach Charles London confirmed that Mariota will serve as Atlanta’s QB1, while third-round rookie Desmond Ridder will begin his pro career as Mariota’s backup.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota. © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota.

“Obviously, we’ve got a plan for each of them,” London said. “Marcus is the starter. That’s how we’re going into this thing,” via Josh Kendall of The Athletic.

Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick of the Titans in the 2015 draft, showed some promise during his five years in Tennessee, including a 2016 campaign in which he threw for 26 TDs against nine interceptions and rushed for 349 yards and a pair of scores. But Ryan Tannehill supplanted Mariota as the Titans’ starter midway through the 2019 season, and Mariota has spent the last two years with the Raiders as Derek Carr‘s backup.

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During that time, he saw extended action in only one game, a Week 15 contest in 2020 in which he completed 17 of 28 passes for 226 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed nine times for 88 yards and a score. That performance was enough to generate trade interest the following offseason, but the structure of Mariota’s contract prevented a deal from being consummated. He ultimately remained with Las Vegas on a reworked pact, and he wound up throwing just two passes in 2021 (though he was occasionally brought in on special packages and rushed 13 times for 87 yards and a TD).

After trading franchise icon Matt Ryan to the Colts in March, the Falcons signed Mariota to a two-year, $18.75M contract. Even after that signing, the club was said to be considering using its No. 8 overall pick on a collegiate passer, though Atlanta chose to wait until the third round to select a QB.

Defense matters for Stroman, MLB's top fielding pitchers

  Defense matters for Stroman, MLB's top fielding pitchers CHICAGO (AP) — Marcus Stroman takes pregame grounders at second base and shortstop. He is working with SSK on his own line of gloves, and there are a couple in his Wrigley Field locker in various colors. He takes his defense seriously — especially for a pitcher. In an age where the focus in on velocity and stuff, pushing fielding even further into the background, Stroman is part of a small but proud group of pitchers mindful of the maybe one or two extra outs they can record per game because of defense.

Ridder completed just under 65% of his passes for 30 TDs and eight picks in 2021 — a season in which he took Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff — and has the chance to become the long-term answer for Atlanta under center.

He may be working with the second team as he acclimates to the NFL, but he will be getting plenty of reps. We heard last month that the Falcons would be deploying Feleipe Franks, the only other quarterback on the roster, in more of a hybrid role, and Kendall confirmed that Franks will practice as a tight end for most of camp.

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Five underrated training camp stories, plus Falcons name their starting QB and contract drama roundup

  Five underrated training camp stories, plus Falcons name their starting QB and contract drama roundup Here's everything you need to know about the NFL for July 28Inglewood, CA - February 13: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the Los Angeles Rams reacts and salutes after a first down on a 35-yard catch and run against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter of the NFL Super Bowl LVI football game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, on Sunday, February 13, 2022.

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Veteran receiver Willie Snead is auditioning for the second time this week. He is visiting the Cardinals for a workout, reports Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson. Wilson adds that Antoine Wesley injured himself in practice, and is likely to be sidelined for one to two weeks. That would (temporarily) add another opening for a wideout in Arizona, a team whose receiving corps has seen some significant changes this offseason. The Cardinals will be without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season, putting added pressure on trade acquisition Marquise Brown to operate as the team’s top wideout in his absence.

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