The first Falcons mini-camp is under-way and we are still a bit away from the first pre-season game. It's the perfect time to convey at the Grits Blitz roundtable so pull up a chair and listen to what we have to say and feel free to chime in with your answers as well. The first point of discussion is position battles. The Falcons are a veteran team so many spots are locked down going into training camp but there are still some key battles that will be waged during training camp. What position battle are you most looking forward to?
Joe: I'm sure you expected me to list the offensive line, but I truly am most interested in the wide receiver battle. There is no doubt that Roddy White and Julio Jones are the top two. The intrigue lies with three through six. Is harry Douglas the teams legitimate number three wide receiver? Where does Kerry Meier truly stand; will he stay healthy; how high is his level as a player? How quickly can James Rogers fit in and establish a role? Will an unknown emerge? There are still a lot of variables at the wide receiver position. Should be a great battle to watch and a lot of fun doing so.
Matt: The biggest competition for the 2012 Falcons will be on defense, at least according to our offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. I agree. Mike Nolan will look to shuffle around players with Kroy Biermann already plugged in as a defensive end/linebacker hybrid player. My biggest interest will be how the pass rush will look at defensive end including the hybrid position. Most have been waiting a few years for Lawrence Sidbury to get more reps, especially after he put up .5 more sacks than Ray Edwards with significantly less playing time. With John Abraham on a snap count, one of our younger players, such as Cliff Matthews or Jonathan Massaquoi could quickly end up in a heavy rotation rushing the passer.
Mike: My favorite camp battle would have to be between Akeem Dent and Lofa Tatupu. Akeem is the heir apparent to Curtis Lofton, but he is young and very inexperienced. Lofa, on the other hand, is a pro bowler and absolute play-maker at the "mike" position. He is coming off a season lost sitting at home, and many question whether or not he can still play. According to multiple sources in camp, Lofa is the real deal. Akeem is soaking up the leadership qualities and by the time training camp comes around, he should be able to push Lofa for the starting spot. The leader of the defense is Spoon, but you need your play-caller to share in the spotlight. I never thought Lofton was a leader on the field. He lacked the swagger that Sean Weatherspoon brings to the table, but 5-0 will be missed. One of these two players need to step it up.
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Zach: When training camp rolls around this season the Atlanta Falcons will have a lot of battles going on. However, none is more important than the battle for the starting center spot between Todd McClure and Joe Hawley. The center position is important to the OLine as the center is often the leader of the OL and the man who points out blitzes and relays commands from the QB. Both Hawley and McClure have a great shot of winning this battle, but I see with the younger Hawley winning this fight and becoming Atlanta's C for 2012.
Kevin: The position battle that is going to get the most "pub" is going to be Dent and Tatupu. I'm definitely interested in watching that one but my biggest interest falls in our entire offensive line and how that shakes out. I know it doesn't sound exciting but the offensive line was the biggest reason that this team didn't advance in the playoffs last year and for the Falcons to step up as Super Bowl contenders this year, the OL needs to take the next step. Training camp is the first step in that process.
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