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Falcons Guard Training Camp Review

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We break down a unit that has a whole lot less of Garrett Reynolds.

The Falcons hopes rest with new guard Jon Asamoah.
The Falcons hopes rest with new guard Jon Asamoah.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is only a few days away, and if you aren't calling in sick to work and driving to the Branch, you need to reevaluate your priorities. This is your camp preview for guards.

What's changed this year? The bad is gone. While left guard Justin Blalock had a fine year in 2013, the right guard was an unending dumpster fire fueled by the terrible play of Garrett Reynolds, Peter Konz and our crushed hopes and dreams. Oh, how that dumpster fire burned. The Falcons addressed the position in free agency by signing former Kansas City Chief Jon Asamoah.

The Players

#1: Justin Blalock - 110 games, 110 games started

Old reliable. Blalock has been consistently above average his whole career and managed the same in 2013 despite playing next to Sam Baker, Lamar Holmes and Peter Konz. A lesser man may have died in such circumstances.

Blalock is a sure bet to hold down the left guard spot for another 16 games in 2014 and play pretty well.

#2: Jon Asamoah - 60 games, 41 games started

Asamoah was brought in during Atlanta's initial slew of free agent signings to help shore up a position that has been weak since Harvey Dahl left. Atlanta finally has a solid, proven player at the right guard position it has severely lacked instead of hoping someone will step up.

As noted earlier today by the DW, Asamoah is one of Atlanta's best players as ranked by PFF.

Stat line: 3-year avg PFF Score: 11.9,  2013 Avg Top 5 Players: 32.5

This was one of the more surprising names to me, but it was a nice surprise. Many of us felt that Asamoah was a critical signing from this off-season, and the numbers back that up. With a very healthy average score of 11.7, Asamoah is one of the few players on this list who didn't have any negative scores over the last three years.

Asamoah is a lock to start at right guard.

#3: Harland Gunn - 3 games, 0 games started

Gunn was given some reps last year at the "aww... screw it" part of the season and did not look terrible. He is still pretty young but looks to be quality depth. Lets hope we don't have to see him soon but he is also the only player listed as guard on the Falcons roster who is not Blalock or Asamoah.

Yes, there are only three players listed as guards on the Falcons roster. This may be trouble.

#4: Gabe Carimi (listed as OL) - 32 games, 19 games started

Carimi, despite having awesome nicknames such as the "Bear Jew" and the "Jewish Hammer", has been a pretty big bust. A former first round pick, Carimi was jettisoned by the Bears after only two seasons before playing for the Buccaneers last year. He has not been good.

However, the Mike Tice favorite is a better fit at guard and can use his size to block bigger, slower linemen. Once thought of as a roster longshot, Carimi is nearly a lock due to the lack of depth at guard and his ability to (poorly) play tackle as well.

#5: Adam Replogle (listed as OL) - 0 games, 0 games started

Oh no, how did we get here already? The Falcons website said that Hawley is the favorite to start at center and Konz is working solely at center. Which leaves us with Replogle, a former practice squad player who is making the switch from defensive tackle to offensive line.

Replogle's best case scenario would probably be securing a spot on the practice squad. In case of multiple injuries, I would think Atlanta would put together some combination of Hawley and Konz at center and guard as opposed to giving Replogle snaps.

What's Changed

New coaching and new players. Mike Tice is expected to whip the linemen into shape after a 2013 was filled with #soft play. Tice will hopefully be able to develop players as well, something that has not happened in years. Asamoah should help solidify the right guard position while playing next to Hawley and Jake Matthews.

The Big Question

Can the line gel together and become an intimidating force? Only a few seasons ago, Atlanta's gritty offensive line was considered dirty. With Harvey Dahl, Tyson Clabo and Todd McClure gone, the line barely bothered to block. Pass blocking and run blocking were egregious, and the Falcons have to hope they can bounce back from the terrible 2013 offensive line.

Best Case Scenario

Everyone stays healthy and we never see Peter Konz. Carimi developing into quality depth would be fantastic.

Worst Case Scenario

A single injury at guard would be problematic. The Falcons would be forced to plug in some fringe talent or Gabe Carimi, neither of which seem to be a big upgrade over former starter Garrett Reynolds. Atlanta is perhaps only a few injuries away from another very bad situation.

Summary

Asamoah is a great upgrade at right guard and he should help solidify the interior line. However, the Falcons have shockingly little depth behind Asamoah.

Your thoughts?