Falcons Head Coach Raheem Morris speaks to media prior to rookie minicamp

Falcons rookies get to hit the field for the first time as Atlanta Falcons, and Raheem Morris speaks about those players, along with Kirk Cousins and the Falcons pass rush.
Atlanta Falcons Introduce Raheem Morris as Head Coach
Atlanta Falcons Introduce Raheem Morris as Head Coach / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Raheem Morris talked to the media prior to the first of the Falcons' rookie minicamp. There were a myriad of topics broached, including Michael Penix, the pass rush plan, and the health of Kirk Cousins and Kyle Pitts. One of the first questions was about how he’d get Penix acclimated to an NFL franchise.

“I kind of told [all] the rookies today, the best way to go about this is to be themselves. I showed the Shaq video where his dad walked out the court, and he was trying to be Dr. J, and his dad, ‘the general’, smacked him and said “Hey man, be Shaq”. And that's why he dunked. I told these guys be yourself, be the best version of who you are, that's why we got you. It's not just Penix, it's all of those guys.” 

Penix is expected to be the backup for Cousins for the foreseeable future, but you can’t help but notice the excitement around the 8th overall pick. There were a few throws shown on Friday that brought excitement to the future. In regards to the new coming veteran, Kirk Cousins, Morris advised that he was “pretty much full-go”.

“Kirk is improving everyday. We're right at the point where he's doing everything that we can do at phase 2, there's nobody around him, there's no contact. He's all good with those types of things, so he's been doing all those things. He's been throwing, he's been out there pretty much full go. We've got him in a limited basis, because obviously he's still in his rehab, his treatment and all those type of things, but he'll be doing a lot of those things when we get back.”

Morris provided. Cousins came to the Falcons in free agency on a 4 year, $180 million dollar blockbuster deal, and puts this team in position to be favorites to win the NFC South in 2024. 

While we’ve tackled Quarterback, and should be taken care of there, Morris still believes we’re a long way away from seeing what our pass rush can be. There was the clamoring for a pass rusher at 8, but LA had a template that will be followed in ATL: draft and develop those young guys that aren’t household names. In regards to addressing the pass rush,

Morris continues: “You're talking about getting into the weeds of training camp, determining some of the things you can do to help your pass rush. Last year in LA we talked about it, we were at the detriment of who was going to be the pass rusher next to Aaron Donald, and then you find these rookies and these young guys come out of nowhere, Kobie Turner ends up with 10 sacks, or 9, whatever it was, Byron Young may have 8 or 9, these guys arise from their point of the draft and hopefully we have that kind of success here, but you don't want to predict that this early in the game, particularly when you talk about upfront people, when you're in the off-season and we don't have on pads and we don't have some of those things.” 

With the addition of Bralen Trice, Ruke Orhorhoro, Brandon Dorlus, Jimmy Lake added some athletic guys to the line. With the worst pass rush win rate in the NFL last year, there has to be some changes in that room. Each of these players all had under a 1.68 10 yard split in their 40’s, a pretty good mark for edge, and very good for interior rushers. The hope is that Lake and Morris can replicate last year’s Rams production with the group in house.