Training camp is nearly upon us. Are you excited? I’m excited!
There are several compelling battles for roster spots and starting positions that will unfold in camp and over the course of preseason games, and the results should greatly impact the Falcons’ potential for success in 2012. After the jump, take a look at some of the camp competitions to keep an eye on as players fight for a spot on the 53 man roster.
One thing we know with absolute certainty is, there is definitely no quarterback controversy in Flowery Branch. Matt Ryan has no competition for the starting job, and Chris Redman should be firmly established as the backup. The Falcons signed Dominique Davis from Eastern Carolina University as an undrafted free agent, and he looked pretty good in minicamp. Just for fun, let’s say that there may be a competition between Davis and John Parker Wilson for the third string quarterback role. If Davis impresses in preseason games, and JPW plays like he played prior to getting concussed last preseason, it could happen.
There has been some discussion of a competition for the starting fullback spot. Mike Cox, who was added to the roster last season following Ovie Mughelli’s season-ending injury, is in the running, as is fifth round draft pick out of the University of Wisconsin Bradie Ewing. Also in camp will be Lee Meisner, an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State-Pueblo. The Falcons will likely only carry one fullback, and in my mind, Ewing has the edge.
At tight end, future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez is locked in, obviously. Michael Palmer was on the roster last season, and he isn’t flashy, but he’s decent. For a third TE spot, it could come down to LaMark Brown, an undrafted free agent from Minnesota State-Mankato who impressed in minicamp, and Tommy Gallarda, who spent most of last season on the Falcons’ practice squad.
There is not much competition at running back, with Michael Turner set for the bulk of the workload, and Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers prepared to execute as needed. Antone Smith could make the roster again thanks to his speed and value on special teams. Dmitri Nance, who was impressive in preseason in 2010, will be in camp with the Falcons and has an outside chance of locking up a roster spot.
At wide receiver, beyond the obvious--Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas are set in their respective roles--the Falcons have a ton of talent from which to choose to round out the roster at this position. Both Kevin Cone and Kerry Meier were on the roster last season and show promise, and Meier in particular is a valuable special teams contributor. Drew Davis was on the practice squad last year, and has some degree of familiarity with the organization. James Rodgers, brother of Jacquizz, could make the roster specifically for his special teams abilities.
The position battles along the offensive line may matter the most. A competition at center has been mentioned around the internet (always an extremely reliable source of football, and other, news), but I expect that McClure will be the starter, with Joe Hawley or Peter Konz prepared to start in the event of injury to McClure.
We will likely see Tyson Clabo as the starter at right tackle, and Justin Blalock will continue to start at left guard. The other offensive line positions are a little more interesting.
At right guard, we’ll see second round draft pick Peter Konz, veteran acquisition Vince Manuwai, and Mike Johnson competing for the starting position. At left tackle, the starter could be Will Svitek or Sam Baker. Lamar Holmes may also be a factor in this position competition, but he has been injured and was unable to participate throughout OTAs and minicamp, which may hinder his impact.
What are you most excited about when it comes to training camp? What position battles are you most looking forward to in the next few weeks? I will be spending as much time as possible at training camp, so let me know if there are specific things you would like me to report on for The Falcoholic.