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Falcons Training Camp 2016: Position battles update

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We’ve got a lot of camp and preseason ahead of us, but here’s where the key battles currently stand.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons-Training Camp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We’re through the first few days of training camp, and we’re starting to see the battles for starting roles and playing time at key positions take shape.

One thing that makes it a little more challenging to decipher the way battles are shaping up is the coaching staff’s desire to try players at a lot of different spots to try to figure out how they can best feature them in the team’s schemes. The other factor is that Dan Quinn and his staff have a commitment to letting young players get practice reps and experience to better prepare them.

Still, we’re seeing who’s getting reps and who’s performing well, so this is where the Falcons are at this point.

Right guard

The incumbent here was Chris Chester, but the position is still wide open after the first four days of camp. Mike Person and Wes Schweitzer seem to be getting the bulk of the first team reps at the position at this point.

Once we hit preseason game action, we’ll have a better idea of who’s the best fit at this spot.

Tight end

I didn’t really see tight end as much of a position battle heading into the season. I expected Jacob Tamme to be established as the starter and that Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo would round out the position group. D.J. Tialevea looks, however, like he could push Toilolo for that third spot.

Toilolo has continued to improve as a blocker and a receier, so this isn’t a criticism of him. It’s just that Tialavea is a better blocker and looks like he can definitely challenge for a roster spot.

Weakside linebacker

They’ve been doing some interesting things at the WILL, but I still think De’Vondre Campbell wins this one.

The team also tried Paul Worrilow at WILL, too, and Dan Quinn said that Worrilow was characteristically open to doing whatever the coaching staff thought might help the team. My thought is that they’re working to determine how versatile Worrilow can be as a backup or rotational player.

Philip Wheeler and Sean Weatherspoon are going to remain in the mix here, as well.

Middle linebacker

This one is still pretty uncertain. The team is giving Deion Jones a look here, and really, Jones just needs more experience. He’s athletic and fast enough to be an upgrade, but he’s still adjusting. That said, he doesn’t stand out terribly, which means he isn’t making mistakes and the speed of the game isn’t a huge issue for him.

Worrilow is obviously still an option at the MIKE, too. He knows the offense and the coaching staff loves his work ethic and effort, so if Jones can’t acclimate enough to be a viable starter, it could be Worrilow again.

Third CB

The Falcons need someone to fill in for at least the first four weeks while Jalen Collins is suspended. Akeem King, a seventh-rounder in 2015, is an option, as is C.J. Goodwin, who shined at times in minicamp and in these first few days of training camp.

My current favorite to win this role is DeMarcus Van Dyke. He’s ridiculously fast and has the length Quinn prefers in the defensive backfield.

Return specialist

Lots of guys are getting reps here, like Eric Weems, but the two who seem to be getting the longest looks are Tevin Coleman and Devin Fuller. With Devin Hester gone, the position is anyone’s for the taking, and this battle will likely continue to unfold as we go through the preseason.

Your thoughts on the status of the position battles?