Veteran Winning Falcons’ LG Competition: Report

Falcons

Getty Former Broncos OT Elijah Wilkinson.

Another Atlanta Falcons offseason means another question mark at left guard.

However, the team may have found their answer, according to The Falcoholic’s Kevin Knight.

Knight, who has been attending Falcons’ camp, tweeted on Wednesday, August 3 that veteran guard Elijah Wilkinson has been getting the first-team snaps at left guard for six consecutive days.

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HC Arthur Smith “Not Down” on Jalen Mayfield

Wilkinson is fairly new to Atlanta after signing a one-year deal with the team back in March. He joined the team following one season with the Chicago Bears. Prior to that, he had spent a few years with the Denver Broncos after going undrafted in 2017.

While he has spent five seasons in the league, he comes with little experience and has only starters in a total of 27 games, mainly for Denver where he played both right tackle and right guard. So, when the Falcons signed him, many thought head coach Arthur Smith’s intention was to have him put pressure on Kaleb McGary for a spot.

But, that ended up not being the case as Wilkinson has nestled right into the left guard job with Jalen Mayfield as his only real competition.

Mayfield, a 2021 third-round pick for Atlanta, struggled his rookie year after being thrown into a messy offensive line following an injured Matt Gono and Josh Andrews.

With Mayfield still taking time to adjust to NFL, Smith and company have favored the way Wilkinson has been playing at left guard, so far.

“I won’t go into specifics, but a lot of times certain things he’s doing are the way it needs to be done,” Smith said, via AtlantaFalcons.com. “I think that’s a good thing for Jalen, so he can step up and make it a competition and we’ll see where it goes. We’re not down on Jalen. It’s more about what Elijah is doing right.”

As for Wilkinson, he’s getting comfortable with the first-team reps, knowing he must prove himself every day to earn a spot on the rost.

“It doesn’t tell me anything. I don’t think anything is done here,” Wilkinson said. “The work is still coming. You have to bring it every day. You have to earn it every day.”


Let’s Not Forget About Mayfield’s NFL Debut

The Falcons’ season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles last fall was not a pretty sight and Jalen Mayfield was the star of the show––but not in a good way.

For most of the night, Mayfield was lined up opposite Eagles’ 300-pound defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. Mayfield had two false starts and Hargrave ended the day with two of the three sacks on Matt Ryan.

The Falcons lost 32-6.

Atlanta then brought in two veterans to compete with Mayfield but elected to keep the rookie as the LG starter the following week and the next. Mayfield had two promising performances after his brutal NFL debut but it wasn’t consistent.

He ended the year first in sacks allowed with 11-sacks and finished in the top-ten in penalties as well with 9.

Most rookies are known to take a jump in Year 2 and hopefully, Mayfield can do that but it doesn’t look like things are going in the right direction for him at the moment.

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