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Brandon Fusco looks to be the Falcons’ starting right guard

The March free agent seems to have won the gig.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After a summer of light contemplation and a fierce battle to decide where the Atlanta Falcons were going with their right guard position, we might finally have an answer.

Though Wes Schweitzer put up a fight, Brandon Fusco appears to be the next man up to slot between Alex Mack and Ryan Schraeder.

Dan Quinn says he’ll be getting the first-team reps in the team’s third preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, typically considered the one where you let your first team offense and defenses actually play and try.

Quinn isn’t going to let the flames of competition simmer before he has to because that’s not how the cat rolls, and it’d be ugly to Schweitzer to not let this publicly draw out to the final second. He’s put in the work and has improved this offseason—Wes had some memorable moments in the second preseason game—but the team knows Fusco is their man.

The first-team offense kept Matt Ryan nice and upright against a serviceable Kansas City front, and if they repeat that against the Jaguars, that’ll settle this battle permanently.

For He’s a Jolly Good Fusco

But, to be honest, Fusco getting the dress rehearsal start tells what you need to know. He is the better player right now and gives the offensive line more stability and a higher ceiling. All the credit in the world to Schweitzer for making what we all assumed was a done deal a battle for camp, but Fusco’s going to win this and start against the Eagles here soon.

His placement gives Atlanta a veteran unit with plenty of smarts and reps in their system and should help Ryan sleep at night a bit more comfortably (well, as long as the twins aren’t fussy). The NFC South has no shortage of interior threats, and the team needs their guards to hold strong. Here’s hoping Fusco will meet that challenge from week to week, especially in run blocking, where the team struggled at times a year ago.

And what of Wes?

As for Schweitzer, it’s tough to put all that effort in and lose out. We feel for him. It’s better for the team that Fusco start, but perhaps the incoming third-year player could start for another team down the road, or lock up a job with Atlanta in the final year of his rookie contract in 2019.

His college coach and former Falcons assistant Keith Carter is up with the Titans, as is former QBs coach Matt LaFleur, so that’s something to monitor for later, maybe. But, y’know, he’s going to be excellent depth for the team right now. If a better version of what we saw last year is waiting in the wings to supplant Fusco if he goes down, that’s some fine insurance to have at a key position.

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, but all indications say Fusco’s going to be the guy come September.