Grimes, Jackson, or Owens?
So the big question now becomes: who takes over the open cornerback spot? Assuming Houston retains his starting CB spot, it’s anyone’s guess who’s the leading candidate to replace Foxworth in 2009. There certainly will be a fierce competition among several players vying to grab a hold of the position. The fight to start is wide open among Brent Grimes, Chevis Jackson, Chris Owens, and possibly Von Hutchins, but many think that Hutchins will be too far behind due to his nagging injury. A quick look at each player’s bio and case to win the job:
Chevis Jackson – #22
Height – 5′11, Weight – 185, Drafted in 3rd round by last year by Falcons
Games – 16, Games Started – 1; 31 Tackles, 2 Ints (1 in regular season, 1 in playoffs), 1 TD
Bio – Came in and grabbed a hold of the starting Nickel position pretty much from day one. After Houston & Foxworth, Jackson was the next cornerback to come off the bench, playing in all 16 games. He had an extremely solid year as a rookie. Displayed a nose for the ball and making plays after getting his hands on it, taking an interception back 95 yards for a touchdown against the Saints. Tough, physical CB. Came out of LSU lacking in recovery speed and true man-to-man cover skills.
Chris Owens – #21
Height – 5′10, Weight – 195; Drafted in the 3rd round this year by the Falcons
Bio – Ranked 12th in the nation in 2007 with 6 interceptions. Good straight-line & recovery speed. “Known to be aggressive in run support. Displays quick, active hands to break up passes. Good leaping ability and times his leaps well. Possesses natural hands for the interception. Mentally tough. Loses a step in his transition and isn’t explosive out of his breaks. Allows separation and isn’t big or strong enough to get back around the receiver to knock away accurate passes.”**
** – Analysis from cbssports.com
Brent Grimes – #20
Height – 5′10, Weight – 185, Years Experience – 1
Games – 12; Games Started – 6; 34 Tackles, 1 Int
Bio – Was the starting CB when the Falcons broke training camp and played against the Lions in the home opener. Started 6 games until injury sidelined him, creating opportunity for Foxworth to take over. Grimes is known as one of the hardest workers and toughest players on the team. He has the reputation for being ferocious and possessing an extremely high motor. Generously listed as 5′10, more on the side of 5′9 & ½, Grimes has matchup problems against taller, bigger receivers.
Jackson Stuck at Nickel?
Von Hutchins might have a chance to get in the mix, but with his fairly severe injury that has taken almost an entire year to rehab, it looks like he may be fighting for a nickel spot, as will be discussed later. Using performance alone from last year it would seem that Jackson has a great shot after coming in and owning the nickel spot as a rookie. He showed a keen nose for the ball and proved to have better coverage skills than many thought along with his toughness in run support and physical play. He was an excellent model of reliability, starting all 4 years at CB at LSU in the SEC. Surprised many people in how fast he rose up the depth chart, being the 3rd overall cornerback as a true rookie. After several scrimmages, Jackson may serve in the nickel role again.
Starting as a Rookie?
Chris Owens seems to be the wild-card coming in as a rookie that many draft experts thought was a bit of a reach in the 3rd round, particularly with guys like DJ Moore sitting there. It was a guy that many Falcons fans hadn’t even heard of when the 1st pick of the second day came in. The more you read and research about the guy, the more you like. He was the epitome of consistency coming out of San Jose State, starting his final 37 games at CB. He had a great year in 2007, ranking 12th in the entire nation with 6 interceptions. His senior year wasn’t nearly as productive, thus creating the slide down the draft. Many argue that he was such a lockdown CB, that teams refused to throw the ball to his side. As many drafts picks from last year can attest, this coaching staff is not afraid to start rookies.
Inside Track for Grimes?
Continuing the theme of intense competition, this has the makings to be one of the best fights for a starting spot throughout the entire camp. Having 3 players, and possibly more, fighting tooth and nail to earn the rights of starting CB for the Atlanta Falcons looks to be one of the most fun to watch in August.
1) Who will win the starting open CB spot?
2) Does Grimes intensity and effort help overcome his lack of height?
3) Is Jackson a shoe-in after starting nickel all of last year?
4) Can Owens come in as a rookie and earn the spot outright?
Daily Tailgate Recipe
If you celebrated a little too much the night before the Big Game, then try this easy breakfast tailgate from Shannon Longo of Virtual Pub – University of Iowa, Tailgate Breakfast Squares.
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