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Falcons Bye-Week Rookie Review: Timmy Horne's Ascension Key For DL

During the Atlanta Falcons' bye week, Falcon Report will be examining the rookie seasons of each of the team's draftees (plus a few extra). Up next in the series is undrafted free agent nose tackle Timmy Horne, who's started each of the last two games.

Nose tackle is a key position in Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees' 3-4 defense, often being asked to anchor against the run and occupy blockers to keep linebackers clean.

As such, during the lead-up to the 2022 NFL Draft, some fans clamored for the Falcons to select Georgia's Jordan Davis, now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, with the No. 8 overall pick.

But the Falcons didn't go that route, instead opting to draft USC receiver Drake London. However, they didn't ignore the position entirely, signing Kansas State nose tackle Timmy Horne as an undrafted free agent.

The addition was initially overlooked by most, as undrafted players often are - but some eight months later, Horne should have everybody's full attention.

Now 13 games in, here's a look back at what Horne's accomplished during his rookie campaign ...

KEY NUMBERS: 19 total tackles (nine solo), one quarterback hit, one pass deflected, zero tackles for loss, zero sacks. Making an appearance in every game, Horne's drawn a pair of starts - both in the last two games.

"REMEMBER WHEN": The Falcons released starting nose tackle Anthony Rush after Week 4 to pave the way for Horne to take over the majority of the reps? It was an underrated vote of confidence in Horne, but one that shouldn't be overlooked when assessing Atlanta's confidence in the 25-year-old.

BEST OF THE BEST: Horne's top outing came in the Falcons' 27-24 win over the Chicago Bears, recording two tackles and his lone quarterback hit while helping limit Chicago's offense to 160 yards on the ground after five straight games of at least 237 rushing yards. Despite not being statistically dominant, Horne's play evidently impressed his coaches, as he's played season-highs in snaps in each of the two games since.

BIGGEST OBSTACLE: As it is for any undrafted player, making the roster is a big uphill climb - and actually being active on gameday is even more difficult. Factor in that Horne's position, nose tackle, doesn't often draw many roster spots, but he beat the odds - and evidently has pleased Atlanta's staff in the process.

WHAT'S TO COME: Horne started the year as a rotational player, seeing action in anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of the defensive snaps. But of late, he's ascended to starter status while playing nearly 50 percent of the snaps. While his lack of pass rush production limits him to a two-down role, Horne appears to have firmly established himself inside ... and could shore up the nose tackle position for years to come.

ONE LAST LINE: "Timmy Horne's a guy that gets better every week," coach Arthur Smith said. "He's in there grinding it out."

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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