Bengals vs. Falcons: 5 position battles to watch

Falcons running back Michael Turner emerges from the smoke and fire to take on the Ravens in Atlanta. Curtis Compton,

Falcons running back Michael Turner emerges from the smoke and fire to take on the Ravens in Atlanta. Curtis Compton,

FLOWERY BRANCH  — While wide receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Green will share the marquee for this exhibition game, here’s a look at five battles that will help to shape the Falcons’ final 53-man roster when the Falcons face the Bengals at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Dome.

1. Right guard. Garrett Reynolds and Joe Hawley shared the right guard position last season.

Reynolds must hold off rookie Peter Konz, a second-round pick, who’s working with the second-team. Hawley has been told he’s more of a center and that he’ll need back-up at center, right guard and left guard.

“They’re guys that were drafted to our roster that we think can come in and fit in,” Smith said. “With that said, there’s going to be some competition. I think they understand it, and I think they have responded to it very well.”

Reynolds had a good outing against the Ravens in the exhibition opener.

“I thought Garrett had a very good steady game,” Smith said. “We kept the quarterback clean in the first game, and that’s the thing that we want to try to do in this game against the Bengals.”

The first-team offense is being heavily scrutinized by the coaching staff.

“They’re going to get more snaps, and we’re going to try to get some guys in some different combinations,” Smith said. “You’ll see in the second group and they’ll be some different combinations going on. Then, we’ll try and solidify in Week 3 and Week 4 what we’re going to try and do in Week 1 [of the regular season].”

2. Wide receiver. Drew Davis and Kevin Cone, the speedster from Georgia Tech, are in a heated battle for perhaps the last wide receiver spot on the roster.

Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas and Kerry Meier have the top four spots. The Falcons could go with six receivers, but mostly like are going to keep five on the 53-man roster and special teams play will be the deciding factor.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how that competition goes,” Smith said. “That’s one that most people are not talking about.”

3. Middle linebacker.Mike Peterson will get the start with Akeem Dent out with a concussion. Peterson will likely enter the season as the backup at all of the linebacker positions.

Dent should come out of the league’s concussion protocol program over the weekend and be ready to play against the Miami Dolphins on Friday, Aug 24.

“Akeem is a guy that we’re counting on heavy to be our linebacker,” Smith said. “And our number one goal, and I say it all the time, is to be as healthy as we can possibly be on opening day.”

Undrafted rookies Max Gruder and Pat Schiller will follow Peterson in the middle linebacker rotation.

Linebacker coach Glenn Pires expects to see some improvement with their first-game jitters out of the way.

“This week is going to be a big, big week for those guys,” Pires said.

4. Outside linebacker.Weakside linebacker Robert James and strongside linebacker Spencer Adkins figure to be the backup outside linebackers behind Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas, respectively.

But Rico Council, an undrafted rookie from Tennessee State, has turned some heads with his striking ability.

“He’s a big, burly and thick guy,” Pires said. “He’s got to bring the wood. Those are his assets. He’s a big and strong guy. He’s physical in the run game. That’s what we want to get from him, getting downhill and playing physical.”

5. Backup quarterback.Chris Redman, John Parker Wilson and Dominique Davis are in a battle for one or possibly two roster spots. There will be an odd man out in this high profile game of musical chairs.

Redman will get more playing time against the Bengals. Wilson had his moments against the Ravens and Davis is having a strong camp.

“Red has been around a long time,” quarterbacks coach Glenn Thomas said. “He knows defenses and what looks he will see. He just has to continue to improve and get the ball to where it is supposed to be. Having some carryover with the offense has helped him with Dirk [Koetter] coming in.”


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45 comments Add your comment


August 15th, 2012
2:50 pm

Monroe Abram and the training staff at Tennessee State did it again! Rico Council coming to the NFL with a body taken care of by a “certified” professional! Let’s see if Jeff Fish and team can foul him up!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 15th, 2012
2:54 pm

JSS – You got a beef with the training staff I don’t know about? (Rico is pretty thick!)


August 15th, 2012
3:03 pm

Rico Council over to MLB?


August 15th, 2012
3:09 pm

I don’t remember Wilsons moments vs the Ravens.

DLed, the issue with Jeff Fish comes from the Falcons propensity to have injuries to players that don’t seem to ever heal, and or losing guys for the season in the weight room quite a bit.


August 15th, 2012
3:17 pm

Jeff Fish is a fraud… Rico is a load!!!


August 15th, 2012
3:19 pm

PMC, I couldn’t have expressed it better! Well done young man!


August 15th, 2012
3:20 pm

But I have to add the “Staph infection” crew he brought in from Cleveland, geez!!!


August 15th, 2012
3:24 pm

Amen on “moments” for Wilson. Unless your “moments” are better described as “sheer terror and awfulness.” Time for him to finally hit the road.


August 15th, 2012
3:27 pm

Robert James looked pretty darn good last Thursday.


August 15th, 2012
4:08 pm

Like to see Drew Davis and Kevin Cone on kick receiving teams. Dent will be Back. He just got his bell rung a little. Have to take precautions with big hits. Like to see Mike Pete on third and fourth downs. Our MLB is having trouble with the pass. Need to put a safety at Linebacker on long yard situations. Too much passing going on in this league. Offensive Line looks great. I don’t care who starts. I’m glad Baker is healthy again. Only need one back up QB. Redman has to show something against bengals. Keep Dominique Davis on practice squad.


August 15th, 2012
4:15 pm


what’s up with the LB out of Bama that went undrafted that was making noise earlier in camp? How’s he doing now that we’re later into camp & is he still looking like a factor concerning making the roster?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 15th, 2012
5:08 pm

Nique — He hasn’t shown up much since the hitting started. Will look for him tomorrow night.


August 15th, 2012
6:08 pm

Guess we can get forget competition at the LT spot huh? I just cant and wont get behind Sam Baker. My confidence in him has been depleted. What ever happened to Mike Johnson?! The guy was an animal at Bama….
@Falconfiend You gotta be kidding me? Do you SERIOUSLY think JPW deserves another year?LOL Davis being on the practice squad is an insult.


August 15th, 2012
6:58 pm

ok, thx for all the follow up D-Led! I hear the Bucs are hard after Demps

Riisssee up? As usual, Fall Down!

August 15th, 2012
7:45 pm


Michael M.

August 15th, 2012
8:27 pm

odd man out in this high profile game of musical chairs…………ha ! ha ! ha ! on the back-up QB…………..the music has already stopped !

Wide receiver. Drew Davis and Kevin Cone equals a pretty even battle but I like Davis to win the spot.

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Bird Brain

August 15th, 2012
9:37 pm

I still wish we would have picked up Kellen Moore as our back up QB who has potential to move an offense and no huddle plays kind of like a shorter version of Matt Ryan but now he is Detroit’s backup. Our backups can’t throw a 5 yard pass without it hitting the dirt first. TD needs to pick up a MLB that ends up being great for us. The Ravens backup linebackers looked pretty good shutting down our backups for 0 points so lets watch their waiver wire. I don’t see nothing good in putting our short slow dude to run back kickoffs to the 19 yard line and he aint no comparison to MJD except for pants size. Please cut Bosher so not another year of me cussing at bad kickoffs and long run backs. Other than those negatives, we got an awesome team that will have a special year.


August 15th, 2012
10:05 pm

Yea,Robert James is a BEAST.

Dat Dude from P.A. in AZ

August 15th, 2012
10:22 pm

Yes Enkinan and Bojack, He did and He “IS”. it’s on……….


August 15th, 2012
10:40 pm

Wilson was horrible.Drew Davis caught my attention but not enough balls. Interested to see more of cone with tje 2nd string


August 15th, 2012
10:42 pm

And y is nobody demandin Matt Ryan be benched after a series or two!!!!!!!!!!!!! If he gets hurt Mike Smith gotta go


August 16th, 2012
7:36 am

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August 16th, 2012
8:24 am

Sir Real………also it is a big risk to place Davis on the practice squad if he is that good and has potental as a starter. Any team can snatch him at anytime. Not many qb’s are placed on that list


August 16th, 2012
8:40 am

keep dom davis on the active roster please!


August 16th, 2012
9:05 am

I would like TD tokeep Davis. I would take him over JPW and Redman . I do not see why they keep Redman and 2.6 million salary. he needs to be cut. Take 2.5 and get a MLB. Thereare several good MLB still FA’s that could help Falcons.

Bubba Gump Shrimp

August 16th, 2012
9:13 am

Should be a good test for our first team DBs. Two good receivers and tight end with the Bengals.

Falcons > Aint’s
Matt Ryan > Drew Bree$


August 16th, 2012
9:32 am


Hot err

August 16th, 2012
10:01 am

Mike Peterson is our starting MLB? how did we get here??? SMH

DC Dirty Bird

August 16th, 2012
10:24 am

DLed, do TD and Coach Smith have something against Crowder? It seems to me that based on the 2-deep linebacker chart, we would be better served having him Peterson, and Rob James and the back-ups.

Also, if JPW is kept over Davis, I will lose faith in TD. At this stage, you keep the talent over the experience at #3. If we ever get down to the #3 due to injury, I’d rather have the upside guy playing over the career #3 guy.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 16th, 2012
10:30 am

DC Dirty Bird — Crowder announced his retirement on his radio show in Miami. He wants to stay at home with his wife, who is pregnant. At the Super Bowl on radio row he told me that she had a pretty tough time with the first child. So, he’s out of the picture. TD and the crew haven’t made any bad cuts I can think of. Most of the guys they cut don’t go somewhere else and star. Chevis Jackson is out the league, the highest drafted player they cut. We’ll see with Lofton. Chauncey Davis, Mike Jenkins and Jamaal Anderson all found spots in the league. I can’t think of anyone that’s been cut, who’s gone on to star elsewhere.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 16th, 2012
10:31 am

Hot err – Umm, Lofton received more money from the Saints. Lofa Tatupu was signed and was injured. Dent has a concussion.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 16th, 2012
10:36 am

Michael M. – I’m not so sure the music has stopped. It definitely has slowed down. I think you find a way to keep both Davis and Cone. They will both play in the NFL somewhere. Loser probably ends up in St. Louis.


August 16th, 2012
11:18 am

Saints > Failcants
Saints have a SB ring….Failcants got nothing
Saints win playoff games….FAILCANTS lose them

Great to be a Saints fan….winners….
FAILCANTS = perennial losers….fact…

Stay classy, birdies….

buckhead benny

August 16th, 2012
11:34 am

What about Michael Calvin? Has he gone cold since his good outing at the scrimmage?

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution lists five position battles to watch on Thursday when the Falcons host the Bengals. Veteran Mike [...]

Lunchtime Links « Crimson coast to coast

August 16th, 2012
12:30 pm

[...] 53 man roster is set, along with Mike Johnson, and JPW.  With a rough outing last preseason game, JPW has something to prove and will need a good showing for the rest of the preseason if he wants to remain on the roster.  [...]


August 16th, 2012
1:25 pm

How’s that LB from Alabama looking?

Michael M.

August 16th, 2012
1:29 pm

D-Led………………..They will be playing rap music after tonight’s contest.

just the truth

August 16th, 2012
2:03 pm

Michael Johnson, ex GT star to start for the Bengals tonight.

Big O

August 16th, 2012
2:53 pm

OK. All you guys are still confused. Except DLED is now correctly thinking ATL might keep 6 WRs. Cone and Davis have also performed well on Special Teams. The fact is, the improved new offense with much more WR involvement per play, WILL result in more WR injuries and the 53 man roster will need to reflect this fact. Calvin needs Practice Squad time just like Cone and Davis did.

Have you all forgotten how solid Redman has been in past years with the #1 offense? I suspect JPW would likewise perform far better. And I still suspect you will see Bierman playing some MLB this year. Why do you think ATL has so many secret practices?


August 16th, 2012
3:14 pm

DOL – Chris Houston had a very good year last year


August 16th, 2012
4:23 pm

@Mxx yeah I good year getting burnt and being injured. BIG O I feel you, I am not worried Redman with the 1’s, I saw a couple of drops in his six pass attempts Thursday. I’m not sold on Wilson I think he gets cut and they hold on to Davis. And next year I think Davis moves to backup Ryan.


August 16th, 2012
5:39 pm

Can’t Wait for game tonight….I hope we see a lot of Rico tonight……I think he’s got potential

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