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This Is Lawrence Sidbury's Year To Sink Or Swim

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  Lawrence Sidbury #90 of the Atlanta Falcons sacks Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings at Georgia Dome on November 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 27: Lawrence Sidbury #90 of the Atlanta Falcons sacks Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings at Georgia Dome on November 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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When Lawrence Sidbury was drafted, I hailed him as an exciting project, a guy who should be ready to join the rotation in a year or two and make a big impact. It hasn't precisely gone that way.

We're now entering the fourth and final year of Sidbury's rookie contract. Through his first two seasons, he was barely even a situational player, held back by a lack of the run-stopping prowess that Mike Smith and Brian Van Gorder valued so highly and his general rawness. It was disappointing in 2010 that Sid couldn't get on the field outside of special teams, and at that point I started to wonder what the Falcons would get out of him.

Last year, he finally got some limited run and was a mighty useful player in those snaps, posting four sacks and great efficiency numbers as a pass rusher. With John Abraham, Ray Edwards and Kroy Biermann on the depth chart in front of him, Sidbury was still only a part-time player, but he looked good enough to carve out a larger role in the rotation.

This is the year for El Sid. The Falcons are going to be focusing on getting a better pass rush, and they know Sidbury is capable of contributing to some degree on that front. If he can do well, he can carve himself out a role on this football team and stick around for a while. If he can't seize playing time or do anything with what he gets, you'll probably see Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi supplant him in 2013.

How do you expect El Sid to fare in 2012?