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Ball protection is crucial in the NFL, and it's one area Atlanta Falcons former first-round wide receiver Drake London is prioritizing this offseason.

During OTAs, while the Falcons went off to work on special teams, London would not follow suit. Instead, he joined ex-NFL quarterback and current Atlanta WRs coach T. J. Yates for 1-on-1 practice, during which Yates would attempt to punch the ball out any way he could. London would also throw the ball in the air, as if he was catching the ball, and the coach would hit him with a large red pad. 

Yates joked about their drills, saying it is a way for him to get his anger out.

"That's just an opportunity for me to let out my aggression a little bit," Yates said, laughing (via the Falcons' official website). 

London explained that he hits the ball "hard enough to knock the ball out, but not to knock my wind out."

Drake London
ATL • WR • #5
REC YDs866
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The former first-round draft pick fumbled three times in 2022, all recovered by the defense, so ball security is something he can benefit from working on. The 21-year-old wants to put those moments in the past, rather than make them a habit.

"I did have a couple hiccups last year, so ball security has been a big thing for me," London said. "I don't do special teams, so I can get my extra work in with [Yates] and we do extra things like right at the catch point, him trying to punch it out, things like that. All ball security, just emphasizing the little things."

As the wideout heads into his second year in the league, they both want to fix London's rookie mistakes before they continue into 2023. 

"Everybody knows the situation," Yates said. "It's one thing you want to nip in the bud early so everyone can play fast."

Two fumbles in two weeks seemed to impact how London approached the game afterwards. 

"After he did have some of those issues he wasn't playing as fast because he was thinking too much about that," Yates said. "You want to get that taken care of. He's fully aware of it and taking it to heart. He's practicing on it and focusing on it."

Last season, London played in all 17 games (starting 15) with 72 receptions for 866 yards and four touchdowns.