Kyle Pitts on pace for best rookie tight end season in NFL history

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    It’s often said that rookie tight ends have the hardest adjustment to make in the jump from college to pro. Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts seems to be immune to that now, but like T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant before him, he struggled out of the gate.

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 24: Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a one-handed catch against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 24: Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a one-handed catch against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    ((Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images))

    The 2021 fourth overall selection from Florida was seen as a transcendent talent at the position and that prophecy is finally coming true. Pitts’ role in head coach Arthur Smith’s offense has grown in the last two games. He had seven catches for 163 yards in Atlanta’s 30-28 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday.

    “He just turned 21. That’s huge because, when you put a fourth pick on somebody, there’s a lot of expectations, and I’ve seen some guys not be able to handle it, but fortunately Kyle has,” Smith said after the game. “He’s exactly who we thought he was.”

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 24: Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after defeating the Miami Dolphins 30-28 at Hard Rock Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 24: Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after defeating the Miami Dolphins 30-28 at Hard Rock Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    ((Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images))

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    Pitts, who just became legal 20 days ago, is now up to 31 receptions for 471 yards and a touchdown on the season. He’s on pace for 1,335 yards, which would be a rookie record for a tight end. He’s the first rookie tight end since the Raiders’ Raymond Chester in 1970 to record back-to-back 100-yard games. Seems like that adjustment period took only six games, showing that Pitts is an outlier in NFL history.

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 24: Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after defeating the Miami Dolphins 30-28 at Hard Rock Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 24: Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after defeating the Miami Dolphins 30-28 at Hard Rock Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    ((Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images))

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    Smith has seen the improvement in Pitts with every passing week, something that hasn’t surprised him.

    “There’s no secrets there,” Smith said. “He’s a good player. It’s the mindset. We don’t get caught up in the day-to-day roller coaster narratives. It’s the big picture. All he’s done every week is he’s gotten better, and he works.”

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