As the Falcons prepare for their second preseason game Thursday night against the Bengals, numerous college free agents, rookies, and veterans alike are still battling to catch the coaches’ eyes. A number of veterans like LB Robert James and QB John Parker Wilson are fighting to maintain one of the 53 coveted roster spots. Each week, RapidReports will examine each position and try to determine which players will be on the team come Sept. 9 against Kansas City.
QB – In: (3) Matt Ryan, Chris Redman, Dominique Davis. Out: John Parker Wilson. Analysis: JPW spent the majority of last season on the Falcons’ practice squad but was signed to the active roster on Dec. 2, 2011. Wilson was 8-of-13 for 69 yards in the Falcons’ first preseason game but Davis, a product of East Carolina, has a rocket arm.
RB – In: (5) Michael Turner, Jason Snelling, Mike Cox, Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith. Out: Dmitri Nance , Richard Medlin, Lousaka Polite. Analysis: Nance was on the Falcons' practice squad in 2010 but was picked up by the Green Bay Packers and added to the active roster before winning a Super Bowl. He’s back trying to force his way onto the Falcons roster. Nance had just two carries for eight yards vs. the Ravens.
WR – In: (5) Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier, Drew Davis. Out: Kevin Cone, Marcus Jackson, Kenny Stafford, Tim Toone. Analysis: The Falcons carried five wideouts last season and it seems that head coach Mike Smith is leaning towards five again this year, with a heavy emphasis on special teams for whoever the fifth receiver will be. Davis made a big impact on special teams in the first preseason game and gets the nod over Kevin Cone, who was on the practice squad last season. Smith called this one of the most intriguing battles in camp.
TE – In: (3) Tony Gonzalez, Michael Palmer, Chase Coffman. Out: Lamark Brown, Tommy Gallarda, Aron White. Analysis: There’s one tight end spot open and Coffman, the former third-round pick who was signed during preseason camp, may well end up with it. While at Missouri, Coffman won the John Mackey award in 2008, given to college football’s top TE.
OL – In: (9) Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Todd McClure, Garrett Reynolds, Tyson Clabo, Will Svitek, Joe Hawley, Peter Konz, Lamar Holmes. Out: Mike Johnson, Phillipkeith Manley, Tyler Horn, Bryce Harris, Andrew Jackson. Analysis: Smith has repeatedly said there are 12 guys fighting for nine roster spots. It’s hard to see any of these rookies beating out veterans who filled in admirably for injured starters last season.
DL – In: (9) John Abraham, Peria Jerry, Johnathan Babineaux , Ray Edwards, Lawrence Sidbury, Vance Walker, Corey Peters, Kroy Bierrmann, Johnathan Massaquoi. Out: Cliff Matthews, Travian Robertson, Micanor Regis, Louis Nzegwu, Elisha Joseph , Conrad Obi. Analysis: Joseph could make the decision difficult for Smith given that regular starter Corey Peters has missed significant preseason time with a foot injury. Massaquoi, though, tied for the team-lead with six tackles vs. Baltimore, including two tackles for loss.
LB – In: (6) Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent, Mike Peterson, Stephen Nicholas, Spencer Adkins, Robert James. Out: Rico Council, Pat Schiller, Jarrell Harris , Max Gruder. Analysis: The Falcons have lost linebacker Lofa Tatutpu (torn pectoral muscle) for the season and will temporarily lose starting LB Akeem Dent, who suffered a concussion vs. the Ravens last Thursday. They may want to consider keeping another backer around given their luck.
CB – In: (10) Dunta Robinson, Asante Samuel, Brent Grimes, William Moore, Thomas DeCoud, Chris Hope, Shann Sillinger , Dominique Franks, Chris Owens, Darrin Walls. Out: Peyton Thompson, Charles Mitchell, Robert McClain, Marty Markett, Suaesi Tuimaunei. Analysis: Mitchell and Thompson will battle for one of the final roster spots in the Falcons secondary. Mitchell was the Falcons' 6th round draft choice this year while Thompson had a good start to camp, recording three tackles and a pass deflection last Thursday vs. Baltimore.
Special teams – (3) Matt Bryant, Joe Zelenka, Matt Bosher. Out: Erik Folk, Josh Harris. Analysis: Harris will be fighting to make the team as veteran Joe Zelenka’s backup long snapper.
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