Recipient VanJeffersonthe status of September 8 home opener against the Buffalo Bills is doubtful as he recovers from knee surgery, so Atwell’s development is of paramount importance for this game and beyond.
Atwella second-round pick last year, is coming off a disappointing rookie season that ended in shoulder surgery.
After working closely with Kupp during the offseason, Atwell showed during training camp the speed and ball-following ability that McVay and general manager Les Snead trumpeted after surprisingly selecting little Atwell high in the draft.
In practices at UC Irvine, Atwell made one or two plays on deep lanes each practice. He also seemed to gain confidence as a kick returner.
“They brought me here for a reason, and that’s to take the top off and do whatever it takes on special teams,” Atwell said. “When my number is called, I have to show them that they can count on me.”
McVay said Atwell has matured over the past year. Now he has to show that he can perform in games.
“It’s one thing to do it in practice, it’s another thing to do it in situations that really matter,” McVay said. “So I want to see this stuff continue to translate.”