It is a tale of two Sidburys.
The first is the Lawrence Sidbury who looks good, is working at defensive end and capable of playing linebacker and has his coach saying this:
"Compared to his first two years, last year was his most productive season," head coach Mike Smith said on Saturday. "He’s very athletic. With some of the multiplicity and the flexibility we’re going to have defensively, he’s a guy that can do a number of things. That’s something that is attractive to our defensive staff."
The second is the Lawrence Sidbury facing competition from Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi, the guy who could wind up losing in the numbers game and has his coach saying this:
"Lawrence is in a situation where we drafted a defensive end so there’s going to be some competition there," Smith said of Sidbury.
If you didn't guess that both of these quotes come from the same article by now, then I think we can safely spoil it. Both of these quotes come from the same article. After the jump, we'll take a look at why that's significant.
With the change in scheming and coaching for the defense, no one's guaranteed a spot on this roster. The fact that Sidbury played well in limited snaps last year and by all accounts has looked good this summer can be mentioned in the same few paragraphs as an ominous note about competition because of those two reasons.
I personally believe that Sidbury will make the roster and be part of the rotation outside, and that Smith's comments are in some ways a motivational tool. I don't, however, think it's outlandish to suggest that some familiar faces won't be wearing the red and black in 2012.
Given that the last couple of years contained relatively few surprise cuts, this would represent a marked change. You can argue that given the frustrating inefficiency of the pass rush and the continued presence of Falcoholic punching bag Robert James on the roster, these changes have to come. I certainly wouldn't quibble.
As with the release of Vince Manuwai, a less productive or less talented player getting axed would be an unfortunate but necessary sort of thing. I believe that if the team is willing to make cuts that may be surprising and even unpopular for the sake of team talent, these Falcons are heading in the right direction.
What do you think Sid's fate will be?