Falcons vs. Giants: Arthur Smith Plans to Let Punter ‘Sink or Swim’

Falcons head coach Arthur smith

Getty Head coach Arthur Smith of the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta Falcons’ young punter Cameron Nizialek is getting another chance to redeem himself after a poor performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2.

“I want to see him take another step, and we’ll see how this week goes for Cam,” Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You let them work through it and they either swim or sink.”

Nizialek, 26,  shanked two costly punts against the Bucs which ultimately led to a 48-25 loss. Head coach Smith is big on second chances but it won’t come easy for the former Georgia Bulldog as the Falcons added some competition this past week in veteran punter Dustin Colquitt. So if Nizialek can’t get the job done this week, his time is likely up.

Falcons HC Has High Hopes for Nizialek

Despite the high pressure on Nizialek, Smith is confident that he can redeem themselves on the road against the New York Giants.

“I can go there and yell at him and tell him don’t shank it, (but I don’t),” Smith said when asked about what he told his punter.

“We have to look down to see where his mindset is, technique-wise. That’s what you have to fix. (He) drops the football, you don’t want it to happen. That’s the challenge of coaching, you go to be fair and let guys play through and see if they can improve. If they don’t then you have to make those tough decisions.”

Nizialek flashed some promise in the Falcons’ Week 1 game against the Eagles. He finished the day with six punts, averaging 46.5 yards a punt. However, Week 2 was a different story after he had four punts, averaging 39.3 yards per punt.

As for Colquitt, he brings 15 years of experience to Atlanta. The former third-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs averaged 43.6 yards per punt on 26 punts through six games last season.

“I don’t believe all of a sudden something is catastrophic,” Smith said on Nizialek making mistakes. “You can feel crappy when bad things happen.”

Nizialek Isn’t the Only One Getting Another Chance

Aside from Nizialek, rookie left guard Jalen Mayfield continues to get yet another chance to prove himself as well.

Mayfield, who was a third-round draft pick from Michigan, got the start at left guard after Josh Andrews broke his hand and landed on injured reserve on Sept. 1. And before that, expected 2021 left guard, Matt Gono, suffered an injury and was added to the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and was last seen wearing a neck brace.

Mayfield’s first regular-season start was not a pretty one against the Eagles as he had two false starts and allowed two of the three sacks on quarterback Matt Ryan. Nonetheless, Smith gave him another shot against Tampa Bay.

We saw very minimal improvement from him in Week 2, but every bit counts. Now, he’ll get his third start against a less stingy Giants defense on Sunday.


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