Every week before the Falcons game, I'll be selecting one player to keep an especially close eye on. This week, it's tight end Michael Palmer.
I mulled over a lot of options this week. No one would have faulted me for going with Matt Ryan, who is critical to the offense and hasn't done much this pre-season. Only a few of you would've blamed me had I gone Matt Bryant, given the amount of press he's been getting on this site and others in recent days.
In the end, I had to go with Michael Palmer. He's flown under the radar to this point, but the Clemson tight end and undrafted free agent appears to have all the skills to be a quality tight end in this league. I've seen him do a little blocking, I've seen him make a few nice catches, and I've seen him flash the kind of physicality you'd like to see from a tight end. I came into the off-season believing fellow UDFA Colin Peek might have a shot, but once he got hurt, Palmer began to impress.
If he does well tonight, Palmer's got a legitimate chance to beat out German blocking machine Keith Zinger for the last tight end spot. After that, the future could be bright for Palmer, with only Justin Peelle and Tony Gonzalez in front of him, because neither of those guys are likely to be with the team after 2011. You like to believe that there are true gems out there who never get their names called on draft day, and the early returns are promising for Palmer.
Watch for him to get extensive run in the second half. A couple of nice catches and confidence in run blocking could sew him up a roster spot.
So yeah, keep an eye on Palmer.