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Falcons Tyler Allgeier, Drake London Rookie Records Only 'Starting Point'

Atlanta Falcons rookies Tyler Allgeier and Drake London finished their first season by setting franchise records ... but this is only the start.

While failing to use the term "rebuild", Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith acknowledged that his team is in a transition.

Battling through salary cap struggles and setting a new identity, the transition spearheaded by Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot appears to be heading in the right direction - thanks in part to a pair of record-setting rookies in running back Tyler Allgeier and receiver Drake London.

Allgeier, a healthy scratch in Week 1, finished the year with 1,035 rushing yards, the most by a rookie in franchise history and just the fourth to eclipse 1,000 scrimmage yards.

London, drafted No. 8 overall last April, hauled in 72 receptions, breaking tight end Kyle Pitts' previous franchise rookie record of 68. The 21-year-old London finished the season with 31 receptions for 428 yards in the last five games alone, four of which came with rookie Desmond Ridder under center.

As winners of each of their last two games, the Falcons enter the offseason with plenty of optimism, headlined by the emergence of the two rookie stars - and Smith is confident about what's to come.

"It's a great foundation," Smith said. "Another thing too, I've been around a lot of rookies that, they start off, they take a lull and it's up and down, the rookie wall. Those guys got better as the season goes on - that's very encouraging."

The idea of a "sophomore slump" - a drop-off second season after a strong rookie year - is prevalent across the league, but so is the second-year jump taken after a full offseason.

It's part of why the second campaign is so critical for most players; can they take what they learned in year one and take a step forward? Or perhaps more applicable for Allgeier and London, can they build on a breakout rookie season and establish themselves on stars?

This offseason - with a full season of experience under their belt and a greater understanding of areas of improvement - will be crucial to how the two rookie stars answer that question ... and Ridder is banking on the development to stardom.

"It's huge for them," said Ridder. "I'm happy for what they did and how they finished. Those are two hard-working guys and they're not going to settle for anything. They're not going to look back at this season and what they did and come out next year and not do the same - I know that they're going to work that much harder to try to be that much better."

Allgeier and London, both California natives, aren't particularly vocal. Both come across as softspoken with a subtle confidence that shows they know how good they are - but don't need to express it.

As such, neither is particularly caught up in their individual records ... starting with Allgeier, who deflected credit to his offensive line and teammates and acknowledged that he's pleased but knows this is only the start.

"I think it’s for sure an achievement," Allgeier said. "I think it’s a good starting point for me. I think for the offense as well, having a 1,000-yard rusher, it’s just a really good starting point for me and all the guys.”

London entirely disregarded his rookie receptions record, instead placing all of the emphasis on team accomplishments and his interest in winning games.

“Honestly, it doesn’t really mean too much," admitted London. "I could have 30 catches and 200 yards in the season, if we’re in the playoffs I would be happier than I am right now. I think we just have to stack wins on top of all that and I think I would be happy.”

And perhaps this best portrays the picture of what makes Allgeier and London historic - where others see a "huge" feat or "very encouraging" start, the two rookie stars fail to bask in their glory, putting team success above their individual accolades.

It's a clear illustration of mindset, goals and the pursuit of greatness ... and through one year, Allgeier and London have impressed in each category.

But still - this is only the "starting point" for these two young stars.

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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