Atlanta Falcons: Competition for roster spots is fierce

Offensive lineman Justin Blalock (from left), Tyson Clabo and Garrett Reynolds triple team defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux rushing to apply pressure in Flowery Branch on Friday, July 27, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Offensive lineman Justin Blalock (from left), Tyson Clabo and Garrett Reynolds triple team defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux rushing to apply pressure in Flowery Branch on Friday, July 27, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — As the Falcons are set to enter the fifth season under the current regime, making the roster has become much more difficult for the team’s current and former draft picks.

Through careful drafting and free agent moves, no longer is there a guaranteed roster spot for all of the team’s draft picks. Over the first four drafts under Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith, 29 of 32 draft picks made the team or the practice squad.

Only running back Thomas Brown (sixth rounder in 2008), cornerback Wilrey Fontenot (seventh rounder in 2008) and cornerback William Middleton (fifth rounder in 2009) did not spend any regular-

Atlanta Falcons rookie defensive back Shann Schillinger runs after intercepting Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle in the third quarter. Schillinger is a native of Baker, Mont., and played college football at the University of Montana. (Photo by Jimmy Cribb, Atlantafalcons.com)

Atlanta Falcons rookie defensive back Shann Schillinger runs after intercepting Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle in the third quarter. Schillinger is a native of Baker, Mont., and played college football at the University of Montana. (Photo by Jimmy Cribb, Atlantafalcons.com)

season time with the team.

But with improved state of the roster, some players from the 2012 draft class will have a tough time making the team over previously drafted players when the Falcons trim the roster from 75 players to 53 by 9 p.m. Friday.

“When you have success and when you draft well, that is going to be part of the conversation every year,” Smith said. “The farther that you get into it, I think in Year One and Year Two, it’s not necessarily that big of a conversation.”

The biggest battle between players drafted by the Falcons is at right guard. Garrett Reynolds, a fifth-round pick in 2009, is trying to hold off a charging Peter Konz, the team’s second-round pick in 2011.

Konz, the 55th player taken overall, played two series with the first-string line against Miami on Friday.

“In my mind, I’m trying to fight for that No. 1 spot, the right guard spot,” Konz said. “As training camp winds down, you start to get less reps and things start to get more solidified. Then you have to get ready for games.”

The Reynolds-Konz battle is going to down to the wire.

“You know that the amount of opportunities you are getting now will decrease in the season,” Konz said. “So you’re trying to do as much as you can to prove to everybody that you can be a main part of this team.”

Konz has picked up things well in the offseason and has played strong. Reynolds, who opened last season as the starter but lost his job to Joe Hawley after seven games, has been solid.

Since Konz received a taste of the first-team action, he wants some more.

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH:  Falcons guard Peter Konz shares a laugh with offensive line coach Pat Hill at the start of the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

061912 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons guard Peter Konz shares a laugh with offensive line coach Pat Hill at the start of the first day of mini-camp in Flowery Branch on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

“I felt pretty comfortable,” Konz said. “I felt like I could handle my business and be a contributor on the line. There are a few things I need to shore up, but that’s why we practice.”

The Falcons have six safeties and they normally carry four into the season.

Starters Thomas DeCoud and William Moore are locks. Chris Hope was signed to provide a veteran presence and backup both starters.

That leaves Shann Schillinger, a sixth-round pick in 2010, battling with Charles Mitchell, a sixth-round pick in 2012, and Suasei Tuimaunei, a free-agent signee in 2011, battling for the final spot.

Schillinger, who was the third leading tackler on special teams last season with 11, has been slowed by a foot injury.

“I’m getting opportunities to show what I can do,” said Mitchell, who played in the SEC at Mississippi State. “I’m doing a pretty good job. I’m definitely trying to make this team.”

Mitchell must prove that he can play on the special teams unit.

“I’m trying my best on special teams,” Mitchell said. “I’m really trying to focus and lock in on that. I’m trying to be the best special teams player out here.”

Behind defensive ends John Abraham, Kroy Biermann and Ray Edwards, there is a log jam of players drafted by the Falcons. Lawrence Sidbury, a fourth-round pick in 2009, Cliff Matthews, a seventh-round pick in 2011, and Jonathan Massaquoi, a fifth-round pick in 2012, are competing for one or possibly two spots.

Dimitroff and Smith know that the team’s roster is now developed enough that some draft picks, current and former, are no longer automatic locks to make the team.

“When you get into Year Four and Year Five, you’ve done your homework and we feel like we have,” Smith said. “There are going to be some very difficult decisions that we have to make.”

THE LATEST NEWS

Backup quarterback Luke McCown signed, Chris Redman released 

Harry Douglas not the forgotten man in the Falcons offense

Corey Peters to be evaluated after six weeks

Falcons waive Parker Wilson, place Peters on injured list

5 things to look for from the starters vs. the Dolphins

Should the Falcons trade with Jax/London Jags for MJD?

Falcons third-round pick Lamar Holmes set to make his debut vs. Dolphins

Coordinators hand out their exhibition mid-term reports; backups need to step it up

Running back Michael Turner still a weapon

Falcons thin at left tackle after Will Svitek goes down; out for season

Falcons finally get fiesty in practice; a couple of fights breakout

Akeem Dent returns to practice; will play against Miami

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

81 comments Add your comment

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
4:10 pm

First and its a battle in the trenchs at falcons camp

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
4:10 pm

First and its a battle in the trenchs at falcons camp

John

August 28th, 2012
4:18 pm

Is Jerrell Harris going to make the team at LB? I know he was impressing people at the beginning of camp. I think he could be a steal. At any school other than Bama he could have been a star.

John

August 28th, 2012
4:19 pm

Is Jerrell Harris going to make the team at LB? I know he was impressing people at the beginning of camp. I think he could be a steal. At any school other than Bama he could have been a star.

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
4:25 pm

D-led why the doubles on here ……………………………..testing

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 28th, 2012
4:26 pm

John — He looks good, but we haven’t seen him do too much. He might have a shot at the practice squad.

THE FAN

August 28th, 2012
4:29 pm

How’s the 3rd TE shaping up? I really like the kid Lamark Brown, i’m hoping he makes the 53 man roster.

John

August 28th, 2012
4:33 pm

Thanks D-Led. I hope he makes it. Our depth at LB kind of concerns me.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 28th, 2012
4:33 pm

THE FAN – Brown looks good, but they may need a blocking TE and Gallarda looks good.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 28th, 2012
4:33 pm

Michael M. — Not sure what’s causing the doubles.

THE FAN

August 28th, 2012
4:36 pm

Thanks D-Led for the info. keep it coming……

mountain_jim

August 28th, 2012
4:38 pm

Hey DLed, it’s looked to me so far that C and RT have also been the weak leaks in the oline, but it has not appeared that those starters are in any danger of losing their 1st string rankings.

Falcon James

August 28th, 2012
4:40 pm

Let us all hope that when it counts, the OL can get a 1 foot push, no matter who is in there.

Jesse

August 28th, 2012
4:42 pm

Matthews or Masq. are gone. Which one?

Clifton

August 28th, 2012
4:43 pm

Falcons will shore up the O-line and LBs with the NFL’s scraps later this week. I predict the no.1 defense and offense for the Falcons this year. On three……..Rise Up.

Clifton

August 28th, 2012
4:51 pm

Well….if not this year then next. Keep passing that kool-aid….I like mine grape flavor.

UK Falc Fan

August 28th, 2012
5:19 pm

D-Led, first time commenter here, I wana say that I check AJC daily from over here in the UK, and I love your work, makes me feel way more connected to the Falcons over there in the US. Quick question sir, what are your views on the McCown signing, do you think he will sit as the Number 3 to mentor Double D or do you think the organisation genuinely see him fit as a backup to Ryan? Thanks!

thouhtful

August 28th, 2012
5:44 pm

This is extremely important for TD and Coach Smith. They have to scan the wire, there will be someone there who can help us get to the SUPER BOWL. To not go after Olympian L. Demps hard was a mistake. He can take it to the house and can be a difference maker. To me this is where TD can show his brilliance IF he studies the wire and makes the deals of guys who can make a difference and help us win a few more games with what we already have. They will be out there.

old qb

August 28th, 2012
5:52 pm

Reynolds is really a tackle. Konz is a center but has quick feet and can pull on runs and screens. Big advantage for Kunz. A good pulling guard is like finding gold.
Massaquoi is totally lost when on the field–may have the physical tools, but needs schooling. I note that Biermann is listed ahead of Edwards (I know, he’s good agains the run–barf).
Kerry Meier with one more injury qualifies for Medicaid. Tim Toone is the closest thing I’ve seen to Wes Welker in years–he needs to be on the team.
LET’S ALL AGREE TO STORM FLOWERY BRANCH AND TAKE SMITTY’S PHONE AWAY FROM HIM–NO MORE CALLS TO JACKSONVILLE. IF THEIR PLAYERS WERE ANY GOOD THEY WOULDN’T HAVE A LOUSY TEAM EVERY YEAR. IF YOU HAVE TO CALL SOMEONE CALL THE PATRIOTS–OR THE PACKERS, BUT STAY AWAY FROM JACKSONVILLE–TOO LATE, THEY JUST GOT MCcOWN.

P B Orr

August 28th, 2012
6:20 pm

D-led, any chance of James Rodgers making the team? Would be cool to have the brothers together.

steven a smith

August 28th, 2012
6:37 pm

P B Orr

August 28th, 2012
6:20 pm

D-led, any chance of James Rodgers making the team? Would be cool to have the brothers together.

This is not the “Boy Scouts of America” This is a Business, The National Football League, period!

Seen This B4

August 28th, 2012
6:37 pm

And yet they’re picking up Saints throw-aways. and don’t reply with Lofton, cause he was a free agent that your mgmt. fumbled the ball on, and didn’t cut.

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
6:41 pm

Falcons official website took on a new look……………….looks more professional…………………………………….check it out

steven a smith

August 28th, 2012
6:41 pm

old qb

August 28th, 2012
5:52 pm

Kerry Meier with one more injury qualifies for Medicaid. Tim Toone is the closest thing I’ve seen to Wes Welker in years–he needs to be on the

Tim Toone catches ONE TD PASS all preseason and now he is a pro bowler, Now he is Wes Welker,
PLEASE, What a joke.(LMAO Over and Over)

ricky neal

August 28th, 2012
6:42 pm

from ricky neal who will atlanta falcons signing saturday i hear their are some good free agents out their

ricky neal

August 28th, 2012
6:56 pm

from ricky falcons got good players two like qb luke mccown roddy white akeem dent vance walker ray edwards justin blalock tony gonzalez josh harris from auburn brent grimes robert mcclan fromer panther jerrell harris from al bama dominque davis qb bryce harris fresno state rb mike peterson safley chris hope rb john abraham de cliff matthews donta robinson cb asante samuel cb sean weatherspoon olb travian robinson ot jacquizz robinson them are championship player we have on the atlanta falcons we are a good football tean in 2012 year

Clifton

August 28th, 2012
7:21 pm

Bitter rivals on the football field and on these blogs, but I pray for the best to the Louisiana folks…..you too STB4.

Mikey

August 28th, 2012
7:25 pm

This will be a very interesting week. The Falcons are finally building enough depth that other teams will be watching their waiver wires come Friday. Tough decisions to be made. That of course is a happy problem for the Falcons (i.e. “Which great player to we keep?”). GO FALCONS!

ricky neal

August 28th, 2012
7:55 pm

from ricky neal who falcons signing saturday afternoon do we know yet

ricky neal

August 28th, 2012
8:00 pm

from ricky neal what time will nfl free agents be put on wavier wire on friday do we know yet

Flacons need 2 cut Perrier Jerry

August 28th, 2012
8:02 pm

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
8:20 pm

Better get ready and hang in there down in New Orleensssss………………….watching weather related stuff and they say it could really get bad over the next 24 to 48 hours with the rain totals………………….as well as storm surge so all you Loussy Aints hang in there………………………………………………………………………………..

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
8:35 pm

http://livewire.wdsu.com/Event/Live_Wire_Tracking_Isaac

click on that and see whats happening live there on the news………………………..

Esquire

August 28th, 2012
8:40 pm

‘He shook two people … both fell down’….jeez, too bad this is about UGA and not the Birds!!!

Esquire

August 28th, 2012
8:41 pm

Notice pansy ass suxthisb4 got his ass out of there………..whimp

Columbus

August 28th, 2012
8:42 pm

Why is the word so mum on Holmes? Havent read nothing about him since before the Dolphin game. How did the coaches think he did? Im guessing no news is not good news…..

Larry

August 28th, 2012
8:43 pm

Simply amazing that we don’t currently have a great battle for LT; or any competition at all for that matter!

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
8:44 pm

Lmao………………………I think I would get outta Dodge too………………….but I always had a fasination with stuff like that so probably would stay…………………………………

ricky neal

August 28th, 2012
8:45 pm

from ricky neal these are players i hope that atlanta falcons cut tommy gallarda garnett reynolds joe hawley dimitri nance joe zelenka shann schilling lamark brown jonathan massquoi rico council cb marty markett owens christoper kroy biemann lawrence sidbury de cb thomas peyton nissley adam lb pat schiller wr kerry meier from kansas

ricky neal

August 28th, 2012
8:50 pm

from ricky so what time do nfl free get put on wavier wire on friday and who are atlanta falcons going two cut on friday what time is wavier wire start friday for nfl free agents do we know yet

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
8:58 pm

way it goes around here ricky neal , probably we won’t know nothing until Saturday or later on any of that……..D-Led is pretty good at letting peeps know who got the can…………………………………..

kingdaddy

August 28th, 2012
9:04 pm

Good job Mr. Ledbetter. Lots of cuts to come. Can’t believe Baker is going to stick and start no less. Falcons need to wheel & deal a bonified LT…

Cejay

August 28th, 2012
9:05 pm

Sure has been nice reading the bogs here the last couple of days…….where are all of the trolls ?

kingdaddy

August 28th, 2012
9:10 pm

Our starters stack up pretty good. Wasn’t completly sold on our backups though. I will bet some good young LB/OL will be avalible, maybe a decent veteran LT. I am looking for some kind of move…

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
9:11 pm

ha ! ha !……………Probably in New Orleeeenssssssssssssss Cejay !

kingdaddy

August 28th, 2012
9:12 pm

Cejay
On the UGA site. All the Dawg fans are leaving…

SeenThisB4

August 28th, 2012
9:13 pm

You know Esqueer, all it takes is a generator. It’s not that bad so far. Got a gust awhile ago around 70. Not raining right now. Landline dead, but Cells And Ipads still working And Esqueer is still a sniveling arse.

Michael M.

August 28th, 2012
9:16 pm

cracking up out here laughin………..oh my………………….

I got a news channel on down in that area on the puter so I know its starting to get kind of bad………………………………………………

Cejay

August 28th, 2012
9:16 pm

I’m with ya Kingdaddy…..it just got to crowded in here……

SeenThisB4

August 28th, 2012
9:22 pm

I see you guy signed Mcowen, i didn’t know we cut him. Why are you signing our cuts?