Falcons rookie accepts fine for letting Kyle Shanahan pick Matt Ryan

Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper, the team's third-round pick from Stanford, already made a rookie mistake that resulted in a fine.

No, Hooper didn't rough up one of his teammates in practice or miss a team meeting. He did, however, allow offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to intercept a Matt Ryan pass during a practice last week. The video of the moment had the Internet going berserk as folks used the clip to tease Ryan.

It was simply a teaching moment between Shanahan and Hooper, although Ryan revealed such a mistake by the rookie would likely result in a team fine. And it did, sort of.

"It's called a fun board, not a fine board," Hooper clarified with a laugh. "It's for fun. I made it on the fun board. It's all fun. We play with Monopoly money."

Hooper certainly learned his lesson.

"Coach Shanahan, he was teaching me Cover 3 (defenders), when they sink like that, you've got to bend your route in front of them," Hooper said. "He taught me that, and then later on in practice I got the same look and I caught a touchdown pass. When [Shanahan] picked it off, he showed me how the wrong way could look. When we got into the real deal, I was already trained on what to do. I'm thankful he taught me the hard way."

Hooper definitely is learning on the fly, as is fellow rookie Devin Fuller at receiver. Both players have had their moments already throughout training camp. And both look rather solid catching the ball in the red zone. When the Falcons concluded their Friday Night Lights practice, Fuller caught a touchdown pass from Matt Simms.

"Like he always does," Hooper said of Fuller. "That's his third practice that he ended with (a touchdown).

"Coach [Dan] Quinn, Coach Shanahan, and [tight ends coach Wade] Harman all have given me an opportunity down in the red zone to see what I can do. I just try to do it to the best of my abilities. My mindset is to come out, execute and play fast, and not try to think a whole lot."

Said Fuller, "I'm just trying to be reliable and show them I can do anything they ask me to do."

The Falcons are looking for better success -- and less turnovers -- in the red zone this season after finishing 17th in the league in red-zone efficiency last season (54.72 percent). Julio Jones is, of course, the top option, but having a tight end capable of getting the ball in traffic such as Hooper -- and the possible contribution of seventh-round pick Fuller with his speed -- simply gives Ryan more options than having to force balls to his top target.