FLOWERY BRANCH — We chatted with secondary coach Tim Lewis after practice on Wednesday.
Just wanted to check in with him and get a pulse of the secondary before the first game. A lot of you all wanted the Falcons to sign Nnamdi Asomugha during free agency. A lot of you all are still asking for cornerback help.
But obviously Lewis, coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are fine with developing the cornerbacks they have on the roster.
The big concern is at nickel back and there is a darkhorse in the race. Much of the discussion has been about incumbent Christopher Owens and the hard-charging Dominique Franks. But there is a darkhorse in the race and his name is Rafael Bush.
Lewis said that Bush, who’s listed as a safety, is in the mix to win the job, too. (Check out his bio –> CLICK HERE.)
“Those three guys are working the nickel spot right now and getting as many repetitions as the rules allow,” Lewis said.
Bush, who signed as an undrafted free agent from South Carolina State in 2010, was on the practice squad last season.
Here’s excerpts from the Q&A with Lewis:
Q: How has training camp been going for your group?
A: I think it’s going well. As is the policy with our team and Coach Smith, we love competition. The competition is a good one. The competition between Chris Owens, Dominique Franks and Rafael Bush for the nickel back spot is probably one of the better ones. It’s an important position for us. The competition is really bringing out the best in all of them.
Q:Bush is in the mix, too?
A: Those three guys are working the nickel spot right now and getting as many repetitions as the rules allow. It’s been great.
Q: Bush is listed as a safety, but he’s a safety that can play the nickel?
A: During last year when we had him as a practice squad guy, he played corner on the practice team and showed some ability to change directions. So we thought we’d give him a whirl at nickel and he’s done a great job there.
Q: How are your veteran starting corners, Dunta and Grimes doing?
A: They are continuing to work and continuing to improve. Every day I can see improvement. Every day I see both guys getting down the timing, the rhythm, the balance and all of those things that a cornerback needs to be successful. It’s a position that requires fantastic athletic ability. You have to be able to run, jump, twist your body in all different types of ways to make plays. They both can do that. All of the guys can really do that. But it’s good to see them getting their timing down. All of those reps that we lost during the offseason, they’ve taken the challenge to try and do extra.
Q: How are your safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore developing?
A: They are doing well. They continue to learn the system. We did some neat things last year. We added some things. We changed some things, tweaked things like all defenses and all teams do. They’ve picked them up while going in full stride. It’s neat to see them gelling together and working together, making calls and communicating. Again, just like any other team, the secondary takes time to become a cohesive unit and they’re working their tails off to get that done as quickly as possible. We’re happy about their progress.
Q: How much of a factor is that they’ve been with you for a year now and know what the expectations are?
A: Now, I know what to expect of them so it’s kind of a two-way street. Some of the things, when you first meet somebody you don’t know what to expect of them. You don’t know what they really can do. Now that I’ve been around them for a year, I have a better idea of what their capabilities are. What we can ask them to do and how we can tweak the system to accommodate their individual skills. They all have a very unique set of skills and we are trying to take full advantage of those.
Q: In light of the playoff game, what did you all see in the secondary to stick with them as a unit and allow them to grow?
A: Hats off to Green Bay. They did a nice job against us. They did a nice job against a lot of people. They were a good football team. We’re a good football team. Blame is a funny thing. It’s kind of the position that we signed on for and we fully expect it when stuff goes bad, it’s always the secondary’s fault. Just like it’s always the quarterback, the head coaches and right on down the line. We get that big picture. When we signed on to do this job, we got the understanding that there is pressure that goes with it. Right or wrong, that’s how it is. We get that. We’re going to stick with those guys because we believe in them.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog