Falcons Beast Safety Prepared to Not Let the Vets Down

Richie Grant

Getty Richie Grant #27 of the Atlanta Falcons participates in a drill at training camp.

In the second round of this year’s NFL draft, the Atlanta Falcons turned to UCF safety Richie Grant.

He’ll have a lot to prove in his first year as an expected starter and while doing so, he doesn’t want the ‘rook” label.

“When the game’s on the line, I don’t want to be the one they’re looking at like, ‘Come on, Rook!’

“I can’t let that be me,” Grant told reporters on Monday.

Due to their salary cap situation, the Falcons split ways with four of their core safeties this offseason; Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee, Ricardo Allen and Sharrod Neasman.

They still have Jaylin Hawkins and T.J. Green on the depth chart and also signed Duron Harmon and Erik Harris in free agency.

Veterans Harmon and Harris have been a big help with Grant’s transition to the NFL.

“To have big brothers I can lean on and get advice from, they’ve both been around for a long time,” Grant said. “Even stuff outside of football with wife and kids; I want that one day. Literally everything that they’re living right now, that’s what I want. They just give me advice every single day; I’m soaking it up.”

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Grant Is Prepared to Prove Himself

When you are playing college football, you are also balancing school life to earn a degree. Grant is learning that the NFL is different, but somewhat still the same when it comes to studying.

“It’s all football. This is your whole life now. There’s no school, so you can study as much as you want. Or, as little as you want, if you want to get cut,” Grant joked.

Joining the Falcons as one of their youngest starters isn’t that new to him after being in a similar boat during his time at UCF.

“At UCF,” he said, “I got thrown into the mix as a young guy. I was playing with a lot of seniors. It’s got that same vibe. I’ve got a lot of older vets out there, and I don’t want to let them down. So I’m making sure every day I’m finding something to get better at.”

Grant Considers Himself ‘A Dog’

This past season, Grant started all but one of 10 games for UCF and recorded 72 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and a QB hit.

In four seasons with the Knights, the six-foot, 194-pounds safety totaled 291 tackles, 29 pass break ups, 10 interceptions, 11.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles.

When asked post-draft what the Falcons were getting in him, Grant said via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “A dog. Pure and sweet. You’re going to get a dog. I’m ready to work. I never thought this could happen, but I’m forever grateful to the Atlanta organization for taking that chance on me. You are about to get a playmaker. A leader on and off the field.”

Grant has the size and athleticism to find success as a first-year starter in the NFL, but we will see if he can bypass the ‘rook’ label.



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