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Kendall Sheffield may continue to start when Desmond Trufant returns from injury

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If so, Isaiah Oliver is likely to be the odd man out.

Atlanta Falcons v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Kendall Sheffield turned in a pretty solid effort in his first NFL start, looking competent on a day when much of the defense was once again in disarray. For that effort, it looks like he’s going to get more chances to start in the very near future.

If Desmond Trufant is out this week, Sheffield figures to line up opposite Isaiah Oliver and get another start, this time facing a potent group of Rams receivers. If Trufant is back, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s out of the starting lineup.

It was always interesting that the Falcons elected to draft not one but two cornerbacks in a year where their top three guys looked pretty settled, but thanks to injury and shakiness, Sheffield is getting his big opportunity sooner than expected. His athleticism and better-than-expected play deserve praise in this increasingly muddled and lost year, and regardless of what happens in the weeks ahead, he ought to have a bright future with this Falcons team.

The guy who figures to lose out in all this, of course, is Oliver. He’s proven again and again to be physical enough—witness his touchdown-saving tackle and should’ve-been forced fumble against the Cardinals—but he’s struggled massively with coverage this year. He was definitely better, by and large, against Arizona, but he’s put enough bad tape out there at this point that it looks like Dan Quinn might just go with Sheffield when Desmond Trufant’s back.

That’s not set in stone, and given Quinn saying that Trufant is not quite there yet with his recovery from his recent toe injury, it’s very possible we’ll get another week of Oliver and Sheffield against the Rams. That would mean plenty of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and some Cooper Kupp, which I am not dreading at all!

If Sheffield turns out to be a quality starter in this league, we’ll all feel great about the run he’s getting now, and I’m bullish on his chances. Given that Trufant isn’t getting younger and that there’s few other proven options in his group at the moment, though, I hope it’s not too late for Oliver.