The Falcons have a good balance of veteran players and young talent on their 2013 roster, and with some young players expected to fill starting roles or be featured consistently in rotation, it's important for those veteran players to provide leadership and guidance to help this year's team reach its full potential.
According to Daniel Cox over at the mothership, that's happening between first round draft pick Desmond Trufant and probable Hall of Famer Asante Samuel. In addition to the guidance and support Trufant receives from his brothers, both NFL players, he is learning from Samuel on the field.
Samuel isn't the only veteran player whose influence is helping Trufant adjust to his NFL life. Practicing against two of the best receivers in the league, Roddy White and Julio Jones, will prepare Trufant, and Robert Alford, to keep up with any receiver in this league.
And Trufant surely isn't the only young player reaping the benefit of veteran influence. Falcons fans have said for years that they would like to see the team draft a young tight end who could learn under the greatest tight end to ever play the position, Tony Gonzalez, before he retires. Levine Toilolo will have the opportunity to do exactly that, while Chase Coffman and Tommy Gallarda have already had the benefit of learning under Gonzalez.
Along the offensive line, veterans Justin Blalock and Sam Baker in particular will need to step up and be leaders, with a second-year player, Peter Konz, starting at center, and a handful of young, inexperienced players, like Lamar Holmes and Phillipkeith Manley, waiting in the wings.
With a lot of young defensive ends looking to be a factor in rotation for the Falcons, Osi Umenyiora has the opportunity to be a good influence in his role with the Falcons as well. Jonathan Massaquoi, Cliff Matthews, Malliciah Goodman and Stansley Maponga all have the potential to be positively influenced by Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann.
One of the interesting things about the leadership that Asante Samuel and Osi Umenyiora in particular can provide for the Falcons is the fact that they both have Super Bowl rings. A Super Bowl victory is the ultimate goal for the 2013 Falcons, and both Samuel and Umenyiora have been there and know what it takes, and can impart that knowlege to the rest of the team.
Which veteran players do you think need to emerge as leaders this season?