CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 10: Linebacker Stephen Nicholas #54 (L) of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates with Curtis Lofton #50 and Sam Baker #72 after intercepting the ball against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Atlanta Falcons rolled out their "starting" lineups for OTAs this week, and as always, it was dotted with familiar names. You had Brent Grimes, John Abraham, Roddy White, and some dude named Matt Ryan. I'm guessing seeing those terrific players getting themselves ready for the season makes everybody a little happier.
Nonetheless, the sight of Sam Baker and Garrett Reynolds holding the top spots in practice was probably a little distressing for everyone. We all remember a banged-up, frustrated Baker playing poorly and Reynolds being a virtual disaster as a starter at right guard. It can be easy to get alarmed about the depth chart, even now, but that would be a mistake.
The starters simply don't matter at this point. The Falcons are letting Baker and Reynolds hold these jobs out of deference, at least at the moment. Baker's got a better shot of starting than Reynolds, but neither is guaranteed anything in the long haul. They'll have competition.
In fact, take the whole thing with a grain of salt. Lofa Tatupu is "starting" at middle linebacker because he's a veteran, not because he's locked into the job over Akeem Dent. The depth chart will shake itself out according to how these players perform in practices and pre-season games, not on the mad whims of Mike Smith at the end of May.
That said, how do you think these particular position battles will shake out?