From all reports and observations, the Atlanta Falcons had a very successful Mini-Camp that set the tone for the upcoming 2010 NFL Season. Although its really impossible to glean too much from shorts and jerseys, the Falcons coaching staff and top brass did get a look at what appears to be the deepest Falcons roster in a long time. There are always position battles and roster competitions, but the sheer magnitude of battles at multiple positions looks very impressive. Besides the obvious starters (Ryan, Turner, Abraham, White, etc.) many players will be looking over their shoulder as the final cut down day looms in late August. If competition does in fact breed excellence, than it looks like the Falcons will benefit heavily for the upcoming 2010 campaign.
Special Thanks to D.Orlando Ledbetter, Jason Butt, Adam Schultz, Dave Choate, Jason Kirk, and Daniel Cox for all the great reporting from Falcons Mini-Camp. All of us rabid and hungry Falcon fans surely appreciate it!
After reading the excellent reports from all three days of the Falcons Mini-Camp, a few observations as the dark clouds of No-Falcons-Football approach…..
Every year there are battles for many positions, particularly the few sacred spots towards the end of the roster where players may not be starting, but will be counted on heavily to perform well in relief or especially on special teams. Due to the excellent drafting of Thomas Dimitroff and multiple signings, this year looks to be the best competition the Falcons have had in a long, long time. There are a few obvious players that are safe, as mentioned above, but there are many that are now in question with all the talent. For instance, Keith Zinger AND Justin Peele might both be in question with the plethora of talent at Tight End. Eric Weems and Brian Finneran surely will have to fight for their spots. Coy Wire, Spencer Adkins, and Robert James will have to turn it up a notch. Even though playing well last year, Thomas Johnson and Vance Walker both will have tobe extremely focused to insure they stay on the roster. Maybe even starter Justin Blalock will have to worry. The point is that the battles will be more than relegated to a few spots on the end of the roster.
Dunta Robinson, Chris Owens, Brent Grimes, Thomas DeCoud, and probably Erik Coleman are all pretty much safe, but beyond that its going to be a fight to the finish. The Falcons carried 6 cornerbacks (Owens, Grimes, Williams, Houston, Hill, Jackson) and 4 safeties (DeCoud, Coleman, Moore, Harris) on last years 53-man protected roster. The competition will be fierce for the last couple of cornerback and safety spots. Chevis Jackson had a really good mini-camp and he needed it after the Falcons drafted Dominique Franks for the future. If cornerback is tough, than safety is off the charts. The Falcons return Thomas DeCoud and Erik Coleman for certain, but the battle for the 4th (and maybe 5th) safety spot will be one the best of the year. The Falcons signed veteran safety Matt Giordano via free agency, as well as inking Shann Schillinger in the draft. Dimitroff wasn’t done yet when he signed Rafael Bush and Gabe Derricks as undrafted free agents. TD has injected a ton of youth and athleticism throughout the roster, but particularly in the secondary. William Moore better get on the field soon or he may find himself on the outs.
As has been discussed at length in The Bird Cage, the Falcons need someone to step up in the passing game if Harry Douglas has any hiccups in his rehabilitation, and really need to develop a strong 4 deep WR rotation anyway. Many familiar with Kerry Meier, drafted out of Kansas, knew he would come in and do well in running crisp routes and catching almost everything, but many probably didn’t anticipate undrafted free agent Brandyn Harvey being one of the show-stealers when mini-camp arrived. Eric Weems will have to be on the top of his game to retain his spot he gained last year, and to his credit he was on Sunday. Other UDFA’s Tim Buckley and Ryan Wolfe also reportedly had good camps as well, even though it should be noted that most receivers look good in jerseys and shorts. Add to that mix Brian Finneran and we should witness a very intense battle for only a few spots. As Meier and Weems should realize, just because you were drafted or made the roster one year does not mean you will this year. There looks to be 8 receivers battling for 2 spots and it’s a really nice to problem to have after having to bring in Marty Booker and Robert Ferguson as an emergency.
Some had thought that Big Trey Lewis was all but done after struggling through 2 knee injuries in 3 years and not being too effective last season, but he seemingly is out to prove people wrong. Lewis had a magnificent rookie year before two knee injuries derailed his career. Give the man serious credit after fighting back through the pain, making the roster last year, and evidently on a mission to regain his previous form. The defensive tackle position is very tenuous with Jonathan Babineaux likely being suspended anywhere from 2 to 8 games or more for his legal run-in. Add to that Peria Jerry still limping 4 months out from opening weekend and fans are happy that we have a deep pool to choose from. Vance Walker and Thomas Johnson proved they belong last year playing very well in relief down the stretch. Corey Peters will have to work hard to insure his spot in the rotation, but the ability is certainly there. For all his faults, Jamaal Anderson does add good value at defensive tackle and reportedly put on 15 lbs to be up around 290. Big Trey Bryant (315) was signed as a UDFA and supposedly had a good camp. Major depth and a number of talented players at DTackle is a great problem to have, particularly this year.
-What battles are you looking most forward to?
-Final impressions on 2010 Falcons Mini-Camp?
-Is this the deepest Falcons roster in decades?
-What rookies are you looking forward to seeing?