Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.
FLOWERY BRANCH — The battle for the Falcons fifth wide receiver spot is heating up now that the exhibition season has begun – and Drew Davis has caught the eye of the coaching staff.
With Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas and Kerry Meier in position, Davis and Kevin Cone are fighting for the final spot.
Coach Mike Smith praised Davis’ game against the Ravens in the opener, both offensively and on special teams. Davis had a tackle and an assist on punt coverage, including a big hit along the Falcons sideline.
Special teams are where the job will be won.
“That position, when we start talking about the fifth wide receiver, special teams is going to probably carry more weight than receiving skills because that receiver is going to end up playing more snaps on special teams than he is on offense,” Smith said.
Smith said Cone may have had the upper hand coming into camp because he saw game action on special teams at the end of last season. With three exhibition games remaining the battle has intensified.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how that competition goes,” Smith said. “That’s one that most people are not talking about.”
Defensive tackle Vance Walker (foot) was cleared and returned to practice.
Defensive tackle Cory Peters (foot), cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring), linebacker Akeem Dent (concussion), running back Jason Snelling (lower right leg) and wide receivers Kerry Meier (leg) and Michael Calvin (leg) did not practice.
Cornerback Asante Samuel, who was excused from practice Saturday, returned.
On a snap count
Smith said the first team offense and defense will be on a snap count for length on playing time in Thursday’s exhibition game against the Bengals.
In the exhibition opener against the Ravens, each unit played one quarter. The offense ran 21 plays. The defense, which forced the Ravens into three three-and-outs, ran just nine plays.
“We’ll have a number in mind that we want to get to,” Smith said. “We definitely want to get the defense a little more work.”
The rookie class suffered a major setback with fullback Bradie Ewing (knee) being placed on injured reserve.
Four of the remaining five members of this year’s draft class had strong showings against the Ravens.
Offensive lineman Peter Konz, the Falcons top draft pick played some right guard and center in the exhibition opener. Offensive lineman Lamar Holmes did not play after missing much of the offseason with a broken toe. Holmes’ practice repetitions have increased this week and he could debut against the Bengals.
“I finally got to the point where I don’t have as much pain,” Holmes said. “If the coaches see me out here without any pain they might let me in, but I don’t know yet.”
Defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (four tackles), safety Charles Mitchell (two tackles, one pass defensed) and defensive tackle Travian Robertson (three tackles) all played and made contributions against the Ravens.
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–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog
The Falcons practiced in helmets and shorts in Sunday’s afternoon practice as Smith said he is avoided back-to-back padded practices. They will work in pads Monday. … Sunday was the final training camp practice open to the public. The Falcons are scheduled to break camp next Sunday.
- Chris Vivlamore