In Sunday's Times: See a complete overview of what fans can expect at Atlanta Falcons training camp in Flowery Branch
Atlanta tight end Jacob Tamme was worried about playing with another quarterback after catching passes from Peyton Manning most of his career with Indianapolis and Denver.
“Peyton has been a huge part of my career, and he’s a great friend of mine,” Tamme said. “It’s hard for me to go somewhere and feel like I was not falling off a cliff at the quarterback position. This is one of the few places where you could go and feel like you weren’t.”
After two days of his first training camp with the Falcons, Tamme said there has been no scary break-in period. He said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has helped make for an easy transition.
“Matt has been awesome,” Tamme said after Saturday’s practice. “I love working with him. He’s got a lot of
similarities with Peyton — the way he leads, the way he approaches the quarterback position. I’ve got a lot of respect for that, so I’m really excited.”
Ryan is entering his eighth season as Atlanta’s starter, and his status as a respected quarterback helped draw Tamme to Atlanta as a free agent. Another attraction was the chance to play in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s system, which makes good use of tight ends.
Tamme may be the favorite to win the starting job in training camp over returning starter Levine Toilolo and Tony Moeaki.
Tamme, who has 178 career catches, is the most accomplished receiver of the three. Moeaki, who had two starts with Seattle last season, has 88 career receptions but is better known for his blocking.
Toilolo had 31 catches for 238 yards and two touchdowns but he also had some drops in his first full season as Atlanta’s starter. Like Moeaki, Toilolo was best known for his blocking when he was drafted by Atlanta, and it wasn’t easy for the 2013 fourth-round draft pick from Stanford to follow standout Tony Gonzalez as the Falcons’ starter.
Tamme, 30, already has shown the ability to catch the ball in traffic in training camp.
“That hasn’t changed from all the way from OTAs,” said Falcons coach Dan Quinn. “He’s had catches behind and down low. We’re just trying to find ways to feature him. He’s got a unique style of how to get open, where to go find it. I think there’s a good rhythm with him with that.”
Tamme (6-3, 230) set career highs with 67 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns in 2010 with Indianapolis. He had 52 catches in 2012, his first season with Denver, but had only a combined 34 the last two years.
Tamme’s production could increase as the Falcons look for ways to keep defenses from focusing on star receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White.
“I feel ready to fill in a lot of different roles,” he said. “As a tight end, you get to do a lot of different things in this offense. I love all the aspects of our position. I’m looking forward to being a versatile player for us.”
NOTES: The team signed OL Pierce Burton and released OG Harland Gunn. Burton (6-6, 305) originally signed with Minnesota in 2014 as an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi. … RT Ryan Schraeder was back after leaving Friday’s practice with what Quinn described as a “slight strain.” … Rookie OLB Vic Beasley Jr. also had no problems after cramping issues early Friday. … Quinn said he has been encouraged to see such players as LT Jake Matthews, C Joe Hawley and LB Brooks Reed in good health after recovering from injuries in the offseason. … Attendance was 3,100 for the first day of the team’s Youth Weekend.