Falcons' Austin Hooper focused on helping Matt Ryan, not fighting critics
/ Falcons

By Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer

Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper went back to work last Friday as he met quarterback Matt Ryan at the team facility and went through an hour-plus throwing session.

Hooper, a California native, easily could have been on a beach somewhere.

"I came back to Atlanta this early in the offseason from California to put in the work instead of just being on vacations,” Hooper told ESPN. “It was just me and Matt. He's starting to throw again, so I want to make sure I'm there as much as possible. Every time he wants to throw, I'm trying to make sure that I'm there.”

The two have had multiple sessions over the past few days, working on timing. Hooper also spent time working out individually with Ryan last offseason while Ryan was in Southern California.

“I'm here [in Atlanta] all offseason to work with him,” Hooper said. “Whenever Matt wants to go out, I told him to just text me.”

The difference between this year and last is Hooper faces much more scrutiny. Many anticipated the 2016 third-round draft pick from Stanford to make the same second-year leap that teammates Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell did on the defensive side of the ball, particularly after Hooper scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Those expectations elevated when Hooper had an 88-yard, catch-and-run touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the 2017 season opener, making all the highlight reels with a wicked stiff-arm of safety Quintin...

Keep reading