This week's mailbag features a smaller haul of questions than usual, mostly because everyone's focused on what's coming out of OTAs. The show must go on!
@TheFalcoholic its spoons contract year. How important is it for him to stay healthy & have a productive year? Job in jeopardy if he doesnt?— Chris D. Wright II (@mr_get_wright) May 28, 2014
There's no question it's critical. I keep harping on the fact that the Falcons drafted four linebackers and what that might mean for guys like Akeem Dent, Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu, but it's just as important for 'Spoon's future. The team needs to consider the possibility that Weatherspoon is always going to battle injuries, and as the years creep up on him, his skills will inevitably erode somewhat. You'd have to be feeling pretty confident to give him a good-sized extension when his contract expires after 2014, and so this year is huge.
If 'Spoon stays healthy and delivers a big season, I definitely see the Falcons giving him a fair extension. If he misses half the year or scuffles, though, there's a good chance the team will move on. I hate to even type that, but there it is.
@TheFalcoholic will jackson be the starting RB at the end of the year?— Tony Kirkland Jr (@tonykirkland19) May 28, 2014
Obviously, this answer is conditional on Steven Jackson not getting hurt. If he's healthy, however, I do expect Jackson to be the starter for the Falcons from wire-to-wire.
The bulked-up veteran back is still the team's best goal line option and remains well-rounded, despite a miserable year fueled by injuries, drops and poor line play. I don't expect him to put up a stellar final line, but he shouldn't have much trouble holding off a rookie Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers.
@TheFalcoholic Will we see a fullback new to the fold get some considerable snaps come fall?— Jordan Hill (@JordanHill1447) May 28, 2014
He's a true conversion project, but I like Roosevelt Nix's chances because of his size, athleticism and willingness to beat other people up with minimal remorse. He's my sleeper pick for the fullback gig, so keep a close eye on him.
That said, DiMarco still has the inside track for the starting job. He played fine last year, the Falcons aren't as heavily reliant on fullback as they once were and he has familiarity with the offense that gives him an immediate leg up. The Falcons didn't bring in a ton of competition here, so barring a veteran addition later on, DiMarco's the favorite.
No question I think he can, though I can't promise he will. Alford has all the instincts, speed and playmaking ability necessary to be a very good starting cornerback in the NFL, and there's no reason he can't start delivering on that potential in 2014.
Again, it's also a competition issue. Only a fully healthy, revitalized Josh Wilson has a real chance to beat him out for the starting gig at this point, in my opinion. I do expect a fine year.
The Matt Bryant-sized duck, because chances are he would lack the ferocity and powerful leg of Bryant. I think 40 duck-sized Matt Bryant would shatter my shins, and once you're on the ground, you're finished. With a loaf of bread and some piano wire, I'd like my odds against the duck.