You don’t expect the second day of training camp to be fruitful, news-wise, and yet there is a ton to talk about even if you set aside the (hopefully) minor injuries for Calvin Ridley and Takkarist McKinley.
The second day featured De’Vondre Campbell getting work on the defensive line as a pass rusher, Wes Schweitzer getting the nod as the first-team right guard for the second straight practice, and an affirmation that Damontae Kazee is going to find his way onto the field despite the team’s overwhelming secondary depth.
Let’s start with Campbell.
The Falcons have consistently talked up De’Vondre Campbell’s pass rushing ability, but they haven’t necessarily found a way to consistently allow him to rush the passer. Campbell has always been remarkably strong and physical for a linebacker, to the point where lining him up on the defensive line at times seems perfectly sensible. The Falcons tried that in practice on Saturday, giving them an extremely nasty-looking line in nickel and dime sets.
Nice group put together for rush drills with Vic Beasley, Takk McKinley, Grady Jarrett, DeVondre Campbell. O-linemen didn’t know what hit em— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) July 28, 2018
If the Falcons are truly planning to get Campbell more involved as a pass rusher and get him some time on the line, they must be feeling good about Duke Riley’s ability to potentially step in next to Deion Jones. If Campbell is as good at chasing down the passer as he was at times last year, and if the Falcons actually commit to using this front at times in 2018, there are going to be a lot of offensive lines with troubling nightmares in the months to come.
Schweitzer’s last stand
After the Falcons inked Brandon Fusco to a multi-year deal, it seemed obvious that Wes Schweitzer was going to lose the right guard job. I still think that’s the obvious outcome, but it’s very clear that Schweitzer is not exactly going to go down without a fight.
Schweitzer has been getting first team work in minicamp and training camp, and while some of that can be chalked up to him being the incumbent starter, it’s worth remembering that he held down the starting spot for 18 games last season and nearly fought his way into the lineup in 2016 as a rookie sixth rounder. While I’m sure Atlanta wouldn’t be exactly thrilled if Fusco didn’t earn the starting gig, given the money they invested in him, they’re going to give Schweitzer a long look and it’s not impossible that he wins the job.
Kazee’s killer versatility
There’s a long way to go yet, but Damontae Kazee is showing early in camp why he figures to be a valuable member of this secondary in 2018, despite the lack of an obvious role for him.
I'm excited to see what Damontae Kazee in his second season with the #Falcons, and part of that excitement is because he has a great person to learn from in Ricardo Allen, who he says is like a "big brother." https://t.co/XXycmZZSjz— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) July 28, 2018
Kazee can—and did—play safety, and he’s also a capable enough cornerback that it’s little surprise to see him getting some time there in practice. Ron Parker wasn’t signed to sit on the bench and Brian Poole should be the fourth cornerback once Isaiah Oliver gets rolling, but even if Kazee’s the de facto fourth safety and fifth cornerback, he’ll find his way onto the field thanks to injury, players needing breathers, or just Marquand Manuel’s desire to get his physicality onto the field.
Watch Kazee the rest of the summer to see if he can push his way up the depth chart at either cornerback or safety, but now’s the time to start thinking of him as a super sub given that Ricardo Allen is headed for a new contract and the team is ridiculously loaded at cornerback. If he can be a great one, this team’s in great shape.
Let’s see what the third day brings for us.