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Falcons training camp is 7 days away. Here's 7 veterans to watch

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Injured, facing competition, or stepping into a major opportunity.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It is one! week! until! Falcons training camp! We can barely contain ourselves, and we're sure you can't either. Don't you dare yawn at me.

With just one week left, it's time to start thinking about the veterans who are either hurt, fighting for their roster spots and/or jobs, or about to earn a fresh opportunity. Here's seven to monitor.

  1. Devin Hester. We bring him up again and again because his status is so deeply uncertain. He could come back healthy, win the returner job, and lock down the #4 receiver gig, or he could be off the Falcons roster entirely if he's either not healthy or too rusty to show the team he belongs. I still think he will find himself cut when all is said and done, which would be a pretty depressing end to an icon's run in Atlanta.
  2. Ra'Shede Hageman. Primarily a defensive tackle for his first two seasons in the NFL, Hageman is moving to end in the base set, where the team is hoping he can thrive as a powerful run-stopper who can simply flatten tackles. It's not crazy to expect a third year breakout, particularly with the new opportunity, but Hageman right now is just a two down player.
  3. Mohamed Sanu. He seemed like a virtual lock to end up as a Falcon, and his contract sparked some of the most heated debate since we last discussed Kroy Biermann. If he thrives as the team's #2 receiver behind Julio Jones, the offense should benefit greatly, but first we have to see how he fares in training camp with a new quarterback and a new system.
  4. Devonta Freeman. If the goal is to motivate Freeman to take his game to new heights, an offseason spent suggesting that the team will take touches away from a 2015 Pro Bowler ought to do the trick. Freeman legitimately faded down the stretch a year ago, but he is a complete back with excellent vision and great hands, and we may not have seen his best football.
  5. Jalen Collins. We're not going to see him in a game for the first four weeks of the regular season, so your best shot to see whether Collins has improved after his mediocre rookie season will be at training camp. With Robert Alford coming up on free agency and Akeem King eager to prove he deserves a larger role, Collins needs to start making his case for the long term right now.
  6. Andy Levitre. His job doesn't appear to be in jeopardy, but Levitre was (along with Chris Chester) one of the weaker links on the offensive line last year between penalties and the occasional burst of terrible blocking. A bounceback year from him would mean a lot to the Falcons, who have a real battle at right guard coming up.
  7. Matt Ryan. You can only get so much of an idea about his comfort level from training camp, obviously, but we're going to be looking for signs that Ryan understands the offense better, has a greater comfort level, and is connecting well with new options like Sanu and rookie tight end Austin Hooper. If he bounces back in a major way, the Falcons can contend for a playoff spot. I legitimately believe that.
Which veterans are you keeping an eye on?