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Arthur Smith on Kyle Pitts’ lack of targets: ‘Not fantasy football’

Aug 27, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) shown on the bench during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row to start the season, the Atlanta Falcons lost.

And for the second week in a row, Kyle Pitts’ line in the box score read two receptions for 19 yards.

The fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft has gotten off to a disappointing start, though it’s not for a lack of trying. Atlanta only targeted Pitts three times in Sunday’s 31-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams after throwing seven passes his way in Week 1.

Pitts was seen as a pass-catching phenom coming out of Florida and was the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history. But head coach Arthur Smith snubbed a question about Pitts’ lack of targets to begin the year.

“Kyle is a huge part of our offense,” Smith said. “You just have to take it with context. Other guys made plays.

“It’s not fantasy football. We’re just trying to win. We will continue to look at everything and try to get better.”

Fantasy managers would prefer to see the version of Pitts from 2021, who caught 68 passes (on 110 targets) for 1,026 yards and one touchdown on his way to a Pro Bowl selection.

But after he found early success in the NFL, and opposing coaches and defensive coordinators figure to be doing all they can to nullify Pitts’ impact.

Marcus Mariota instead turned to rookie wide receiver Drake London, also a first-round pick, who hauled in eight catches on 12 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown Sunday.

The Falcons trailed 28-3 early in the third quarter before pushing back with 17 fourth-quarter points to make it close. But Atlanta gained just 261 yards of total offense and was 3-for-10 on third downs.

Atlanta was quiet Monday, other than to announce the signing of practice squad defensive lineman Abdullah Anderson to the active roster.

The Falcons elevated him from the practice squad before the Rams game and he made two tackles on 11 snaps, including one tackle for a loss. That was enough to earn himself a full-time spot on the active roster for now.

Anderson is on his fourth team in four NFL seasons. He saw 10 games over the past three years with the Chicago Bears (2019), Minnesota Vikings (2020) and Green Bay Packers (2021), recording one sack.

–Field Level Media