The Falcons suffered their first major injury of the year during Tuesday's minicamp, losing Lamar Holmes for the foreseeable future with a broken foot. While there were a range of reactions to his injury, the truth is that losing Holmes underlined one of the Falcons' potential Achilles heels in very dark ink.
The Falcons' offensive line shouldn't be an active liability, at least on paper. Jake Matthews will have the chance to get healthy and play in a scheme that emphasizes his athleticism, Chris Chester is a scheme-versed veteran, Joe Hawley is athletic enough to play the pivot and Jon Asamoah (to a greater extent) and Ryan Schraeder (to a lesser extent) have enough talent to lock down the right side. If everything breaks right, the Falcons have a starting unit they can go to battle with, and one that should help them achieve the offensive balance they've craved since 2012.
The if is the important, terrifying part. I like to avoid talking about injuries in earnest until they strike, but the Lamar Holmes broken foot has put the fear into me. No matter what you think of Holmes' ability, he seemed likely to hang on as the third or fourth tackle for this football team, and depth is a critical thing for an offensive line that lost multiple starters a year ago. If Holmes it out into the regular season, the team has to dip into free agency or entrust a role to a young player that might not be ready, and they've had distinctly mixed success doing so over the last couple of years.
Given that, health will be critical for the line, and health is something we unfortunately can't guarantee. The Falcons have done a good job of upgrading the talent around Matt Ryan to ensure he's got someone to throw to and run the ball even if he won't have a ton of time in the pocket, but the state of the line still concerns me. Every team is dependent on this unit or that unit playing well and remaining in perfect health, but the offensive line promises to be so critical for the Falcons in 2015 that I can't help but fret in June.
We'll just have to hope the Falcons are due for some luck on the injury front. The success of the season may hinge on it.