Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Mike Smith knows. He’s just not saying.
All the position battles the Falcons had this offseason have been decided with the start of the regular season Sunday. However the Falcons coach will not say who will start at right guard or either cornerback or who will be the punt returner or backup quarterback.
“Come to the game on Sunday and see,” Smith said on the situations before being asked a question during his post-practice press conference Monday. “We are not going to discuss it simply because I don’t want to give a competitive advantage to our opponent.”
Garrett Reynolds has played at right guard with the first team all preseason, including starts in all four exhibition games. He was relieved by rookie Peter Konz at times in the final two games. The starter will not be known until Sunday’s season-opener at the Chiefs. However, Reynolds practiced with the first team Monday.
The cornerback positioning with Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel is also to be determined. Robinson will move inside in nickel packages but who starts and at which side won’t be revealed. Several combinations were used in practice.
Dominique Franks was the primary punt returner during the exhibition season with Tim Toone seeing action later in games. Franks was waived Friday as the Falcons trimmed their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players.
“I think so,” Toone said when asked if he thought he had won the punt return job before practice. “I think that is one of the main reasons they kept me to be able to be back there and catch the punts for them.”
When pressed on the punt return position, Smith said there are three players on the roster, two with experience, capable of returning punts. They are believed to be Harry Douglas, Grimes and Toone. Special teams practice was not held during media availability.
Smith was also evasive on the issue of backup quarterback behind Matt Ryan. Luke McCown is still learning the playbook after signing with the team less than a week ago. Undrafted rookie free agent Dominique Davis played the entire final exhibition against the Jaguars.
“He is behind in terms of the learning curve to learn our offense,” Smith said of McCown. “… We’ve got to get him up to speed as quickly as possible.”
When asked if being behind meant that McCown was not ready to be the backup to Ryan Sunday, Smith again refused to answer.
“I think I’ve answered that I would not answer that question based on giving someone a competitive advantage,” Smith said. “I think that Luke has the experience to be a No. 2 in this league but in terms of right now who we will go to as the No. 2 quarterback I’m not going to say.”
- Chris Vivlamore
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