The Falcons predictably cut long-term guard Justin Blalock at the start of the offseason, an expensive and poor fit for their new offensive blocking scheme. After free agency and the draft, the only potential addition made to the guard position was Mike Person.
According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Person has been the starting left guard at mini camp. You may remember when he was signed that you thought, "Who is that? I've never heard of him."
Here is a quick reminder of Dave Choate's impressions when Person was signed.
Person played in 16 games for the Rams, starting zero. He has experience as a tackle and guard between previous stops with the 49ers, Colts and Seahawks, and right now I'd project him to provide veteran depth for an offensive line making a wholesale transition to zone blocking. At 6'4" and 299 pounds, he doesn't tip the scales but has quailty size and strength. We'll get a better look at him over the summer.
There's an outside chance Person will be competing for a starting gig at left guard, but we're so far away from that being reality I'm going to mention it in passing and then run away from it like a live grenade. If he can back up both guard spots and dabble in tackle, he'll have his uses for Dan Quinn and company.
It looks like we are at that outside chance Dave mentioned. Person was given a surprising amount of money to join the Falcons at the very start of free agency, suggesting they believe he can contribute for at least a few seasons. He may very well be starting sooner rather than later.
The current lineup is of course missing injured Sam Baker, Joe Hawley, and Peter Konz, all players who may get shuffled around to guard. Additionally, James Stone could get pushed from center to guard as soon as Hawley returns.
While Ledbetter suggests Jon Asamoah could always be plugged into the left guard spot, the team would then have a hole at the right guard position.
One interesting piece of news from Asamoah was the promise of true competition for playing time, as opposed to prior seasons of stubborn depth charts seemingly 95% decided prior to the start of training camp.
"It’s kind of with (coach Dan) Quinn and all of the new guys, everything is about competition. Everything is up for grabs and whoever wins whatever spot, wins it."
If the new coaching staff puts a bigger emphasis on competition, Person may have a real chance as Atlanta's new starting guard.