Falcons Lose to Miami

Recap: Falcons’ Line Offensive In 13-9 Loss to Miami

By Gabriel Watts

In what was considered the final dress rehearsal before the regular season, the Falcons didn’t really give us what we had hoped to expect in the coming weeks, at least not from an offensive standpoint. For a majority of the first two quarters, Matt Ryan was either on the ground or hurrying his throws because of an ever-collapsing pocket that didn’t give him a lot of time to make his reads. To Miami’s credit, their defensive line is very good and will probably end up ranking in at least the top 5 in the NFL. However, in my opinion, the Falcons could have put up a better effort and also could have shown a little more urgency with the regular season on the horizon.

Offensive Line Struggles

​In Atlanta’s defense, they really haven’t established the starting five for the offensive line yet, so this makes it harder for our guys to gel together and form a solid unit. For this game, Coach Quinn surprisingly started Mike Person at center instead of Joe Hawley. Also, James Stone got the start at LG. They both struggled mightily, but as a whole, the entire offensive line was being pushed around all night. Again, the Miami Dolphins’ defensive line is very formidable, but that’s no excuse for the line to get thrown around like they did. The Falcons need to make changes and make them quickly. Maybe bring in outside help such as a Jake Long for depth, or return Jon Asamoah to the starting lineup. Either way, this is not the way the line should look going forward. This offense has so much potential with so many newly added weapons. However, no one will be able to see such potential if the offensive line can’t come together immediately.

Defense Shows Up

​The one bright spot for this game was the defense. Besides a lone touchdown, the Falcons really didn’t give up that much to Miami’s starting offense. Adrian Clayborn stood out in particular with how he constantly created pressure and got into the backfield. If he continues to show up like this, he could prove to truly be the steal of free agency. Also, once again, Paul Worrilow was all over the field making plays. He has said over and over again that in this defensive system, he doesn’t have to think as much and can move more freely. It is clearly showing and for the once UDFA, this could prove to be a fun year if he keeps it up.

Finally, the last highlight play of the night on defense had to be when Tyler Starr and Joplo Bartu hooked up for a nice tipped pass and interception late in the game. Bartu, for one, hasn’t really shown up during the preseason, but Starr on the other hand, has shown that he can generate a legitimate pass rush. With these two both fighting for a roster spot, it will be interesting to see if Dan Quinn keeps one or maybe even both of them.

Final Notes

  • Before the game, the Falcons announced that they had signed WR Julio Jones to a five-year contract extension worth $71.25 million dollars (47.5 million guaranteed). According to Adam Schefter, the Falcons had made Saturday the deadline for a deal to get done and to their credit, the Falcons got it done. The deal makes Jones the second highest paid WR in the league behind only Calvin Johnson.
  • WR Nick Williams continued his strong preseason with another spectacular outing. Other than a miscommunication on a kick-off return with Devin Hester, Williams caught a couple of nice passes throughout the game. He is making it very hard for the Falcons to cut him. With him, the Falcons would have seven wide receivers going into the regular season, and that is a very real possibility. If they put him on the practice squad, Williams could be a sure bet to land with another team.
  • Rookie RB Tevin Coleman finally made his highly anticipated debut. However, it was hampered by horrible offensive line play as Coleman could never really get anything going. After the game, Coleman said his hamstring is still only at about 80%, but he just wanted to get out there and play. Fellow RB Devonta Freeman was held out of this game and will likely be held out of the final preseason game on Thursday against the Ravens.
  • The first round of roster cuts has to be completed by Tuesday, September 1st, as the roster has to be cut down to 75 players. We’ll see who stays and who goes as I’m sure Coach Quinn has some very tough decision to make.

Until Thursday…RISE UP!

Jacob Tamme

Points of Emphasis: Tight Ends Look Much Improved

There are only a handful of high-level tight ends in the NFL. Below the most obvious names is a tier of serviceable, while not standout players. None of those resided on the Falcons’ roster between 2013 and 2014. Following the departure of all-time great Tony Gonzalez, the position was perhaps one of the team’s weakest at an individual level.

There was hope that Levine Toilolo, a rookie drafted in the fourth round in 2013, could take the necessary steps to become a role-player within the team’s offense, but that hasn’t happened. In 2014, he displayed inconsistent pass-catching ability and an overall lack of awareness.

Going into 2015, the Falcons signed a couple of free-agent tight ends in Jacob Tamme and Tony Moeaki. The former has worked with Peyton Manning for most of his career, and was often an underrated teammate of the quarterback. The latter was a once promising player who’s suffered a few derailing injuries.

In comparing the three players, Tamme jumps out as the best of the bunch. His resume, while limited as he was never a top target of Manning, is certainly the most impressive, and he understands the role he will be playing for Matt Ryan – a chain-mover, and match-up winner against linebackers. His blocking is sound if not strong.

The depth chart becomes murkier behind Tamme, though it’s hard not to envision Toilolo maintaining the second tight-end spot. He’s reportedly had a strong camp with major improvements in his concentration and catching. Last year against Minnesota, we (somehow) got to see Toilolo play right tackle and he held up ok, but his blocking over the season was relatively inconsistent. Still, he is probably a stronger option than Moeaki on the whole.

Behind those three players, the Falcons also have Mickey Shuler and DJ Tialavea on the roster, though neither seem to have a great shot at making the final roster depending on the number of tight ends the Falcons carry on the team during the season.

Who do you think will make the greatest impact of the tight ends this season?

Falcons vs. Jets

First Teams Shine in Falcons’ 30-22 Loss vs. Jets

By: Gabriele Watts

The Falcons’ first team offense, defense, and special teams all seem to be in mid-season form already, in only the second week of the preseason. The New York Jets clearly were no match for what the Falcons brought to the table early on in the first quarter. Just like last week, the passion and intensity were undeniably on display. This team loves playing together, and without a doubt, it shows on the field.

Matty Ice Shines Again

Quarterback Matt Ryan, yet again, made the most of his time in the game, which included throwing a perfect pass to the ever-impressing FB Collin Mooney, yes that Collin Mooney, for a huge 60-yard gain. Shortly thereafter, RB Terron Ward rumbled in for a 4-yard touchdown run. For Ryan’s next and final drive, he really didn’t have to do too much in order for the Falcons to score. Following another Jets punt forced by the impressive Falcons’ defense, Devin Hester, the ageless wonder, did what he is accustomed to doing, returning said punt for 59 yards and a near touchdown. A couple of plays later, Ryan hit WR Leonard Hankerson for a quick TD pass thanks in part to a mix-up on D, on behalf of the Jets. Ryan continues to have a spectacular preseason. We can probably expect more of the same next week, despite Miami’s stout defense with newly added DT Ndamukong Suh.

Second Team Woes

After all the starters were pulled in the 2nd quarter, the backups all seemed to struggle. Missed tackles, bad throws, and many miscommunications were the highlights throughout the rest of the game after a stellar first quarter. Not to worry Falcons’ fans, for a growing team, there will definitely be growing pains along the way. You can be sure that Coach Quinn will address all of the blunders that were made tonight, immediately during the next team practice.

Beasley Looks Beast-ley

Rookie DE/LB Vic Beasley continued to show fans why the Falcons picked him eighth overall. He caused multiple disruptions and helped with key defensive stops during his time in the game. Beasley has a real chance to be special. If he keeps playing at this pace, he could be in line for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Other Notes

  • S Robenson Therezie seemed to suffer an apparent head injury late in the game, but he ultimately was cleared to check back into the game.
  • Newly signed RB Evan Royster seemed to get injured late in the game as well. The Falcons seem to have bad luck with the RB position this preseason. Let’s hope this kind of luck doesn’t last too long.
  • After the game, Coach Quinn said that he hoped to have rookie RB Tevin Coleman and second-year RB Devonta Freeman back next week against the Miami Dolphins.

All in all, the Falcons seemed to get through this game pretty much unscathed. Hopefully things will go as smoothly next week against Miami, as well.

Rise Up!

Justin Hardy

Points of Emphasis: Falcons Boast Talented Wide Receiver Depth

By Al Baskurt

Despite the team’s overall struggles the past two years, the wide receiving corps of the Atlanta Falcons has been viewed as a strength. This is due in part to top-shelf quarterback Matt Ryan, but even more so to the big name guys on the outside: Roddy White and Julio Jones. While the former enjoyed a few dominant years as the team’s number one receiver, his career is definitely on the decline. That’s not to say that White won’t be a big contributor to the team’s 2015 offense, but age has taken over, and it’s safe to say he won’t be quite as effective as he once was. On top of age and injury concerns, the emergence of Jones as one of the league’s best at the position has relegated White to a complimentary role.

Despite those two players, depth has been a huge concern for the Falcons at the wide receiver spot. The front office basically ignored the position for years after drafting Jones in 2011, which is somewhat understandable given the haul they parted with to trade up and draft him, but the team suffered as a result. While critics of that view might cite the presence of Harry Douglas as a valid reason for not addressing the position more comprehensively, he was never a complete player. I won’t get into Douglas too much here, but it’s critical that the team find a reliable, intermediate, in-traffic pass catcher if the Falcons’ passing game is going to succeed outside of Julio Jones.

Julio Jones

Julio Jones will once again be counted on to devastate opposing defenses

Behind Jones and White on this year’s work-in-progress depth chart are Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester, and Justin Hardy.

Hankerson, a free-agent from Washington, has been a player slowed by injuries for much of his career. However, he has a familiarity with Kyle Shanahan’s offense and has flashed ability in the past. If he can stay healthy, he has a good chance to make an impact on the outside. Despite so far having a good training camp, his injury history is a concern.

Hester is obviously a great asset on special teams, but his abilities as an offensive player, especially out wide, are limited as he’s never been able to put it all together. Last year, the team ran some end-arounds as a way to get the ball into Hester’s hands in space, and received limited results. His role on offense will hopefully be limited to specialty plays, as that is where he will likely function best.

2015 fifth-round pick Justin Hardy out of ECU (NCAA record holder for receptions) has the potential to fill the slot/intermediate pass-catcher role in the Falcons’ offense, but he has much to learn and prove before adequately filling that void. There is room for optimism with Hardy, as many regard him as a good route runner and tough player – both important traits for someone having to make catches in traffic.

While there are a few names to watch out for beyond these main players, they are all either likely to be no more than practice squad players or primarily play on special teams in 2015. Eric Weems has proven extremely valuable for his special teams contributions, and had a few impressive games last year as a reserve pass catcher.

Bernard Reedy, a speedster who last season turned heads at training camp, could once again land on the practice squad, as it will be difficult to crack the roster with the six names ahead of him.

Marquez Clark and Nick Williams were two receivers featured a decent amount in the team’s preseason opener, though both also figure to have a hard road ahead of them to make the 53-man roster.

The Falcons’ 2015 receiving corps will be something to watch. For one, Julio Jones seems poised to have yet another outstanding year. It will be interesting to see to what extent Roddy White can regain his pre-2013 form, and who, if any, of the newcomers step into a significant role on the offense.

Up next: Tight ends

Vic Beasley

Recap: Falcons Sharp In 31-24 Preseason Win vs. Titans

By: Gabriele Watts

Atlanta Falcons Football is finally back, ladies and gentlemen! Even though this was only the first preseason game, it still felt good to see live action against an actual opponent for a change. Sure enough, the Falcons did not disappoint, providing us with plenty of excitement early on in the first half and pretty much throughout the entire game. Let’s take a look at what stood out on Friday night.

Matty Ice and Julioooooo!

If you haven’t already gotten used to hearing those two names, now is the time to sear them into your memory. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the rest of the first-team offense – minus a few players on the offensive line – were only out there for one series, but boy did they make it count. Ryan was 6/6 for 86 yards, with Jones catching four of those for 61 yards and a touchdown. It was quite simply “flawless” (as Browns CB Justin Gilbert would put it). Couldn’t have done it any better. If the o-line can hold up like it did and the running game can be a little bit more efficient, then I’d say we’d have ourselves a pretty formidable offense going forward.

Defense! Defense!

Now to the unit we’ve been waiting all offseason to see, the defense. They were facing the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Marcus Mariota, and again, for the most part, they did not disappoint. In the first series, after Mariota completed his first pass to none other than former-Falcon Harry Douglas, he was soon picked off by a speedy-newcomer and veteran, Justin Durant. So much for Marcus “no INT” Mariota.

In the second defensive series, most of the first team defense still remained out there, only to bullrush Mariota into fumbling the football and letting Paul Worrilow recover and return it for six. This is exactly the type of defense Dan Quinn envisioned. If the defense can play with the same level of intensity they showed against the Titans in every game this season, then they could be in pretty good shape this year.

T.J. Yates vs. Sean Renfree

After much of the first team offense and defense were off the field, it was time to put in the highly-competitive backups. At quarterback, T.J. Yates was less than stellar. Other than a rather effective drive that ended in an Antone Smith rushing touchdown, Yates was all over the place, making low throws and not looking like he had a firm grasp on the new Kyle Shanahan led offense. Late in the third quarter, Sean Renfree checked in and seemed poised and relaxed. He orchestrated a beautiful drive of his own right off the bat, hitting nearly every pass he threw. The drive fortunately ended in a Michael Ford rushing TD. After that, the game was pretty much in hand but still, I liked the way Renfree stepped in, in a tie-game situation, and effectively delivered. Head Coach Dan Quinn said in his postgame interview that the No. 2 QB position was, and still is, a 100% open competition. Expect Renfree to get a little more playing time next week against the New York Jets.

Rookie Growing Pains

As with the rest of the team, everyone was eager to know how the rookies fared. For the most part, they did well. Rookie DE/LB Vic Beasley seemed a little anxious to get on the field and show the home crowd what he could do, and you could tell just that when he was hit with an encroachment penalty early on in the first quarter. After that, he settled down and was a big part of the Mariota strip fumble that was returned for a TD.

Rookie WR Justin Hardy, which the team plans on using extensively this season, showed some early jitters in his game as well. Although it was a low throw from T.J. Yates in the second quarter, Hardy still allowed a ball to pop out of his hands only to be intercepted by a nearby Titans’ defender. For the rest of the game, Hardy looked solid, catching a few nice passes for first downs, including a near touchdown.

Finally, rookie CB Jalen Collins was the one rookie who struggled the most. Collins was beaten on several throws, albeit good throws from Titans’ backup QBs Charlie Whitehurst and Zack Mettenberger. However, he did recover a little and showed a lot of heart and hustle by tipping a pass from Mettenberger that Robenson Therezie intercepted. The early struggles are to be expected from Collins. Although he was a high draft pick, he only started 10 games at LSU. He also missed a lot of OTAs and minicamp in early June in order to recover from a foot injury. Give him time Falcons fans, he’ll get there.

The Dan Quinn Effect

Last but not least, I must comment on the effect Head Coach Dan Quinn has had on this team and on this fan base as a whole. Quinn came in preaching that he wanted his entire team to be “fast and physical.” For those who thought that was just a talking point, you guys were surely mistaken. You could literally feel the energy radiating from this team. The heart, hustle, and tenacity quickly were on display from the opening kick, and quite surprisingly, you heard it from the fans in the Georgia Dome as well. As a lifelong Falcons fan, this was the loudest I’ve ever heard it to be for a preseason game. Buckle your seatbelts, we could be in for an enlightening season.

Final Notes

  • RB Antone Smith injured his hamstring during his TD run late in the second quarter. Look for him to miss some time.

  • Devin Hester, Tevin Coleman, Devonta Freeman, Brooks Reed, Cliff Matthews, and Desmond Trufant all did not participate due to injury.

The Falcons return to the practice field on Monday from 10am-12pm. Rise Up!

Devonta Freeman

Points of Emphasis – 2015 Falcons’ Training Camp: Running Backs

By: Al Baskurt

The Falcons’ running game has been subpar for the past few seasons, even when including the relatively successful 2012 campaign. The problem, by that point, was the amount of tread left on Michael Turner, who had given the team three very productive seasons before that point (and an uneven 2009, though much of the team suffered that year). Signing Steven Jackson as a free agent from the St. Louis Rams was an uninspiring move going into 2013, as he was a similar player to Turner – very productive, but worn down by the overseer of human endeavor known as time. The diminished talent in the backfield was of course exacerbated by the Falcons’ degenerated offensive line.

The addition of Devonta Freeman as a fourth-round pick out of Florida State in the 2014 draft gave an injection of youth into the Falcons’ running attack during his rookie season, albeit it was one undermined by limited snaps and uneven play. To be fair, it is difficult to give Freeman a full evaluation given the state of the offensive line in 2014. Meanwhile, longtime special-teamer Antone Smith was given some offensive opportunities, and he capitalized with big play after big play a number of times before going down with a broken leg that ended his season.

This year’s draft saw the team add Tevin Coleman in the third round from Indiana, where he rushed for over 2,000 yards in his final season as a Hoosier. Much has been made about the competition between Coleman and Freeman, with both expressing a desire to be a true lead back, but the battle has recently hit a snag with both suffering hamstring injuries in training camp. With the two of them relegated to recovery, the opportunity is ripe for undrafted free-agent rookie Terron Ward to earn himself a real shot at the roster. Ward’s had a few impressive training camp sessions so far.

Tevin Coleman

Tevin Coleman’s playmaking ability could make him the front runner to start.

Now that we’re familiar with the players in the Falcons’ backfield, it’s time to examine how things might shake out in 2015. With his pass-catching ability and advanced vision, Freeman certainly has an edge to be “the guy” if the Falcons choose to go with a bell-cow approach. His pass blocking is still something of a question mark, though he’s improved since last year. In contrast, Coleman is known for a propensity to rip off long runs and rack up the yardage. There’s no doubt either could make a great impact running behind the revamped offensive line in an attack coordinated by Kyle Shanahan, who comes from a lineage that seemingly churns out 1,000-yard rushers out of thin air.

At the same time, the coordinator’s recent time in Cleveland can’t be forgotten, where he had a committee approach that included rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. This is worth noting, as it means we can’t rule out Coleman seeing a significant number of snaps. This seems the most likely method by which the Falcons will attack opponents on the ground in 2015 – a healthy dose of Freeman or Coleman depending on the situation. The most important part of their game will be to master running in the zone scheme, which both should be relatively comfortable in.

As for Antone Smith, the speedster will probably maintain a similar role to that of 2014, though hopefully he will be involved in a few more packages, perhaps lined up out of the backfield as a pass catcher.

As shown by the team’s first unofficial depth chart, Dan Quinn’s emphasis on competition has produced some unexpected results. Take Jon Asamoah as an example. Despite coming in as a pretty well-compensated free agent, Asamoah’s listing behind Chris Chester at guard sent shockwaves through the Falcons’ fan base, which means that while Coleman and Freeman look like the frontrunners for the starting job, it’s difficult during the early weeks of training camp to pinpoint who the team will lean on or what the committee would look like if that is the approach taken. There’s no reason to suspect that Terron Ward, mentioned earlier as having a so far great camp, won’t be right in the thick of things for playing time, especially as Freeman and Coleman recover from their hamstring injuries.

Up next: Wide receivers

Roddy White and Desmond Trufant

Predicting the Falcons’ Final 53-Man Roster: Training Camp Edition

By: Charlie Deeks

Now that we’re a week away from the Falcons’ first preseason game, it’s worth having a look at the camp reports and trying to predict the 53-man roster. I’m predicting that two rookie undrafted free-agents make the team – read on to find out who.

Offense

Terron Ward

UDFA RB Terron Ward

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan
Sean Renfree

Renfree vs. Yates is shaping up to be one of the many intriguing training camp battles this year. The Falcons are unlikely to carry three QBs again – thanks in part to the stiff competition at many other positions – and so it might be that one of these two is cut before the season opener.

Last year, T.J. Yates pulled out a great game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after a mediocre preseason to cement his spot on the roster. He might have to do that again if he’s to stay on the roster another year.

Running Back

Tevin Coleman
Devonta Freeman
Antone Smith
Terron Ward

Under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s new zone-blocking scheme, the RB position has become all the more important. Running a committee instead of a lead back also accentuates the need for a fourth running back – in this case, one of the standout rookie UDFAs, Terron Ward. Ward’s been receiving glowing reports from players, coaches, and reporters alike, and he is certainly within a good chance of sneaking onto the roster. Whether he makes it or not likely comes down to his special teams play – we’ll have to see how he gets on with Keith Armstrong; I think he sneaks on.

The recent hamstring injuries to Freeman and Coleman might also go some way to convincing the Falcons top brass to carry an extra running back.

Fullback

Collin Mooney

Despite incumbent starter Patrick DiMarco’s experience with the Falcons, I’m going to take a punt on Mooney here. Mooney was given a multi-year deal, and was impressive carrying the ball in college – at the moment, the Falcons lack a bruising, one-yard-on-the-goal-line type – and Mooney could be that guy. In DiMarco’s three years in the league, he’s yet to register a carry, but has taken some catches out of the backfield – somewhere he might have the edge on Mooney. This is really a coin-toss, but I’m going to call it for Mooney.


Wide Receiver

Julio Jones
Roddy White
Leonard Hankerson
Justin Hardy
Devin Hester
Eric Weems

Barring any new FA signings, this seems fairly set in stone for me. The only real contender for a spot is Bernard Reedy, one of last year’s preseason standouts. He is eligible to sit on the practice squad for another year, but there is a possibility that he’s stashed away on the 53-man roster, à la Tyler Starr last year. I’m guessing he doesn’t, as he isn’t enough of an upgrade over any of these players in terms of WR ability, and Hester and Weems are more than capable of handling return duties. Weems also earns his spot here not just due to his play at WR, but also through his captaincy on special teams, his excellent work as a gunner and as a solid clubhouse contributor.

Tight End

Jacob Tamme
Tony Moeaki
Levine Toilolo

Jacob Tamme has been impressing in practice, especially in redzone situations. He’s been consistently creating separation, and might function as the first truly solid receiving TE threat since Tony Gonzalez. More good news from training camp – Toilolo is finally looking like the redzone threat he was drafted to be. At 6’8″, he has the natural advantage over basically everyone, but he finally seems to be putting it to use after two years of frustration. By all accounts, Moeaki has the most raw talent of the three, but whether he produces and whether he stays healthy is a different question.

The Dan Quinn connection in Seattle might be giving him a boost – Toilolo is primarily taking second and third team reps in camp, so it seems he’s the one on the bubble – but I’m guessing he impresses to an extent that they keep him on as the third tight end.

Offensive Line

C Joe Hawley
C/G James Stone

G Jon Asamoah
G Chris Chester
G Mike Person

LT Jake Matthews
RT Ryan Schraeder
T Tyler Polumbus
T Lamar Holmes

Konz misses out this year due to the good play of James Stone when he came in as an UDFA last year, and capably started nine games at center. Stone has also been trying out at guard in camp, so he could be a backup there too. Both Chester and Polumbus benefit from their time with Shanahan in Washington, and should be valuable veterans of the ZBS. Lamar Holmes is really the only one in trouble here – with the foot injury that has landed him on IR, he is a botched recovery away from handing his spot to someone like DeMarcus Love.

Defense

Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley

Rookie DT Grady Jarrett and pass-rusher Vic Beasley

Defensive Tackle

Ra’Shede Hageman
Paul Soliai
Grady Jarrett
Jonathan Babineaux

There’s not really any training camp competition for these guys. I’m especially excited to see Hageman, after reports that he has worked hard this offseason to get in shape – and also my steal of the draft, Grady Jarrett. There are concerns with his height in camp, but otherwise he looks like he’s going to be a great addition as a fifth rounder.

Defensive End

Tyson Jackson
Malliciah Goodman
Adrian Clayborn
DE/OLB Kroy Biermann
DE/OLB Stansly Maponga

These again seem fairly set due to the lack of real competition from the other camp bodies. Biermann and Maponga are both listed as LBs, but I can see them being more used as DEs. As a man the fan base loves to hate, Biermann should improve this year – he will hopefully be used correctly by the new coaches (i.e. not in coverage) and will find himself in a utility backup role rather than as the frontline pass-rusher.

Let’s also hope that Tyson Jackson plays up to his contract – last year was a bit of a disappointment, but here’s hoping Quinn can get the best out of him. As for Clayborn, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer – he might be one to keep an eye on, with a number of sources impressed with his ability to get to the quarterback.

Outside Linebacker

Vic Beasley
Brooks Reed
Justin Durant
O’Brien Schofield

An all-new OLB group is headlined by the eighth-overall selection in the 2015 draft. Vic Beasley is an extremely exciting prospect – quick off the mark, and he has an uncanny ability to make the sack. He is joined by three solid free-agent signings – Reed and Durant are both great starters, and should bolster a previously disappointing group. O’Brien Schofield, a reliable backup and third-down contributor rounds off the new-and-improved Falcons OLBs.

Middle Linebacker

Paul Worrilow
Nate Stupar
Allen Bradford

Worrilow and Stupar seem to have their spots locked down – Worrilow for his defensive play and leadership, and Stupar in most part for his special teams coverage and captaincy. I’m going to go with Bradford for the third spot – he’s been impressive in camp, and he seems like a bit of a pet project for Dan Quinn, having bought him over from Seattle. He is a converted running back who seems to be extremely raw, but offers the physicality and speed that Worrilow can’t. Fast and physical, after all. His main competition comes from 2014 fifth-rounder, Marquis Spruill, who tore his ACL in camp last year and was out for the year. I’m guessing he loses out to his slightly more established competition, and spends a year on the practice squad.

Cornerback

Desmond Trufant
Robert Alford
Jalen Collins
Dezmen Southward
Kevin White

Trufant, Alford and Collins seem to be the top-three CBs in camp. Collins has struggled slightly, but like any rookie-second rounder, he’ll get time to work out the kinks. Southward is still a raw project, but he is simultaneously a good bet to beat out his competition as the dime CB, as he can also moonlight as a backup at safety. I’m going for Kevin White as the final CB and second UDFA on the roster – he’s one of the more highly touted UDFAs coming out of the draft, and his college tape shows why. He certainly has potential, and would gain a lot from being on the active roster. The other possibility is that he spends a year on the practice squad, and veteran Philip Adams takes his place. I’m going to go with the former, because Adams hasn’t really shown anything special in his career so far, and I like the upside of Kevin White.

Free Safety

Ricardo Allen
Charles Godfrey

Allen has been rolling with the first team during camp, and has received praise from coaches and players alike. His ability to read and make the plays is much improved from last year, and it looks like his spell in the practice squad has been invaluable. Godfrey will provide some experience in the backup role, and I’m guessing that seventh-rounder Akeem King will find himself on the practice squad.

Strong Safety

William Moore
Kemal Ishmael

Unchanged from last year, William Moore remains as the hard-hitting strong safety. Ishmael has played well when he has needed to, maybe cementing his position as Moore’s eventual successor.

Special Teams

K Matt Bryant
P Matt Bosher
LS Josh Harris

None of these guys have competition in camp – they’re locks for next year. Bryant was perfect from anything less than 52 yards away, Bosher led the league in hang time, and I don’t remember nor can find evidence of Josh Harris ever having botched a snap. No problems here.

So that’s my thoughts on the eventual 53-man roster. First round of cuts is the 27th of August – I’d love to hear what you think.