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How important is veteran leadership to the Atlanta Falcons in 2014?

Fact: Justin Blalock owns a modified red, white, and blue AR-15 that shoots baby eagles dressed in American flags


Veteran leadership is a funny thing in the NFL. On the one hand, many veterans become cap casualties. On the other hand, every football team needs leaders. It's a delicate balance that must be struck.

For the Falcons, 2014 could be more of the same or it could be a resurgence. With a decidedly middle-of-the-road roster, the Falcons need a little something special to get over the hump. With a 3-7 record in one touchdown games, the 2013 Falcons didn't have luck on their side. And let's be honest, relying on luck is hardly a recipe for success. In the alternative, relying on veterans to provide that spark of inspiration isn't a horrible idea.

Now let's be honest here: the Falcons are a team. They are a team in the NFL. The NFL is a league full of professionals. These professionals are paid to play football. In theory, they shouldn't need inspiration. Their hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary should buy them all the Five Guy's their hearts desire. But inspiration does matter, whether we think it ought to be necessary or not.

For the Falcons, veteran leadership won't be hard to come by. They've got veterans in all phases of the game, from special teams, to the offensive line, to the defensive line, there are plenty of guys with experience. But being a veteran isn't good enough. What's needed is guys, on both sides of the ball, willing to raise expectations. Guys who will expect from their peers what's necessary to win football games.

In my mind, veteran leadership will be huge for the Falcons in 2014. What are your thoughts? Who are the veteran leaders we'll rely on heavily? Discuss!