Who is the Atlanta Falcons new No. 3 wide receiver? As of Wednesday, it would be hard to argue anyone other than Olamide Zaccheaus.
Entering his third season, Zaccheaus continues to be a weapon downfield for the Falcons during training camp. Considering the glimpses of potential he's shown in two years, it's easy to see why coach Arthur Smith and the offensive staff have high hopes for a breakout season.
"We put a lot on his plate, and he can handle it," Smith told reporters Saturday. "He's a smart dependable football player who can play multiple roles. Those guys are valuable. He can play different positions on the fly. He's working to compete for a starting spot. That's what you want. He's dependable. That's what he has shown so far."
Remember in 2019 when he went undrafted? Who knew that two years later, Zaccheaus would be more than just the guy who scored a 93-yard touchdown as a rookie?
Every practice, he looks stronger, quicker, and more agile than the year before. Maybe this was always within his abilities. But sometimes, it's hard to see the upside when another player is in the way.
"There's no Julio [Jones], so we have to adjust," Zaccheaus said Tuesday. "We understand that it's a business, People come and go. Our position group is tight-knit, so we just rely on each other. That trust is our backbone. That's important to us on game day. That's what we fall back on."
Jones, who was traded to the Tennessee Titans earlier this offseason, leaves behind the No. 1 job for the first time since being drafted in 2010 out of Alabama. Fellow Crimson Tide alum Calvin Ridley showed he could take over the mantle as the next leading receiver following a 90-catch, 1,374-yards campaign in 2020.
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The former No. 3, Russell Gage, continues to be a name on the rise as the new second-in-command. Last season, Gage was the breakout star, recording career-bests in receptions (72), receiving yards (786), and touchdowns (4).
Does this make Zacchaeus the de facto third option?
In a similar fashion to those above, Zaccheaus looks consistent in his route-running, ability to read coverages, and getting off blocks. He knows that with a strong camp, the reps will come. The more reps his way, the better his overall production.
"I'm going to come here and work hard for the team no matter what," Zaccheaus said. "I'm going to give 100-percent effort no matter what I'm asked to do. I'm all about building the team morale and helping the team win."
Zaccheaus wants to build off his fast start entering Week 2 of training camp. He also wants to be more than guy the "long touchdown guy."
"Dependability'' is a great word to describe a wide receiver's job on offense. It's a word Zaccheaus hopes to be known for in 2021.
Said Zaccheaus: "It's Year 3 now. That was a play I made my first year. I'm trying to take one day at a time and stay in the present."
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