Falcons head coach Arthur Smith told reporters on Friday that he expects "everybody" to be ready for the start of the regular season when they host the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. That includes star tight end Kyle Pitts, who missed the back half of last season due to a right MCL injury that required surgery.
Pitts hasn't been spotted at Atlanta's OTA practices thus far, but when asked about his status Smith specifically noted that the team will play it smart and indicated that Pitts will be ready for the opener.
"We fully anticipate everybody being ready to go Sept. 10," Smith said Friday, via ESPN. "And so we'll be smart."
Smith did not dive any deeper into Pitts' status and didn't give any specific timelines for his return nor if he'd be ready to go for training camp. Pitts suffered the injury during Atlanta's 27-24 victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 11 and the following day.
"We're trying to be smart. We know we're planning to play 20, 21 games," Smith said. "So when you do that, you need to be ready to go, peaking, ready to roll Sept. 10 and play our best football at the end of the year. So that goes into mind."
Pitts entered the NFL as the No. 4 overall pick out of Florida in 2021. He instantly made an impact with the Falcons becoming just the second tight end in league history to record a 1,000-yard season as a rookie, which also helped to earn a Pro Bowl nod. In 27 games played, he's hauled in 96 passes for 1,382 yards and three touchdowns.
If Pitts is healthy for the opener, he'll headline an athletic skill-position group for the Falcons that also includes wideout Drake London and 2023 first-round running back Bijan Robinson. With Desmond Ridder ready to take the reins as the full-time starter, getting Pitts healthy out the gate will be a tremendous leg up for the second-year quarterback as well.