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Matt Hennessy heads into training camp as the front runner for the center job

The second-year pro has the opportunity to seize the job and never let it go.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The center battle figures to come down to Matt Hennessy and rookie Drew Dalman. The Falcons were clearly excited about Dalman and had no existing attachments to Hennessy, so while the second-year pro is the more experienced player, it has been fair to wonder whether Dalman might have a real shot to grab the job. My expectation has been that it will indeed be Hennessy, with Dalman serving as a super sub on the interior of the offensive line, but the rookie’s chances are not easily dismissed.

In Tori McElhaney’s list of 10 questions for what’s ahead, which is very good, there are notes on the offensive line that worth considering about Jalen Mayfield, the left guard battle, and more. But there are also some tantalizing notes about Matt Hennessy that I hadn’t seen to this point. To wit:

Matt Hennessy is expected to take over at center in the wake of Alex Mack’s departure in free agency. Many say Hennessy is coming along nicely at the spot. Smith said Hennessy has done everything asked of him, and Jake Matthews noted his communication skills are much better than they were in his rookie year.

That’s a strong statement backed up by team sources, Matthews and Arthur Smith. While the usual caveats about not reading too deeply into minicamp and OTAs certainly is still true here, Hennessy’s brief starting experience last year probably gave him enough of a leg up that we should be taking this seriously. His athleticism and quickness were appealing to the previous Falcons regime, but we shouldn’t forget that the new coaching staff also wants offensive linemen who can move and communicate effectively. If Hennessy is way ahead of where he was a year ago, you can probably pencil his name in for a starting job.

It’s too early to say anything definitively, but it appears Hennessy has an early leg up on the competition. Let’s hope he can take over and deliver the kind of season peak Alex Mack would be proud of.