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Chris Owens Is In The Spotlight

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To add even more color to what my esteemed colleague James Rael wrote this morning, Brent Grimes is out. That really sucks.

When the Football Gods shut a really valuable door that covers wide receivers well, however, they occasionally open a smaller one. Such is the case with Chris Owens.

Owens was a third round pick by the Falcons back in 2009, when Thomas Dimitroff took a shine to the small but athletically gifted San Jose State product. For his first three seasons, Owens was a steady contributor, playing sparingly inside and out and chipping in on special teams.

Yet a piss poor 2010 performance against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs clearly cost him in the eyes of both the coaching staff and fans alike, and his playing time dwindled in 2011, at least somewhat. Now, though, he's a critical cog in the secondary.

Unless the Falcons sign another cornerback, Owens will get extensive time both outside and in under Mike Nolan. That means plenty of exposure to quality receivers and a real chance to prove that he's more than just a career reserve prone to making big mistakes for every nice play he authors. It's the chance to become a starter for these Atlanta Falcons and keep the job.

That's a pretty large task, but it's one we all have to hope Owens is up to meeting. If he can play even passable defense, it saves the secondary from a disaster. If he can't, the Falcons have to turn to other options, and they'll probably waste more than a little time on starting him and watching him get burned. This next game against Peyton Manning and the Broncos may prove to be critical. He can't go punching anyone, that's for sure.

How do you think Owens will handle this?