“Vinny was completely out last year,” coach Mike Smith said following Saturday’s practice. “In terms of the competition at the offensive line, we didn’t want to muddy the waters.”
Manuwai missed all of last season with a foot injury, and his conditioning was hampered by the NFL’s lockout. He spent 2003 to 2010 playing in Jacksonville, four of those seasons under current Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
Now that Manuwai is out of the picture, the right guard position is clearer. However, just because the 25-year-old Reynolds made seven starts last season, it doesn’t lock him into the position.
“We feel like we have a real competitive situation across the board at offensive line,” Smith said. “We are going to roll them in and out so we can look at the different combinations.”
Smith and new offensive line coach Pat Hill are intent on giving themselves flexibility when it comes to the O-line. Last season, Matt Ryan was sacked 26 times, including 19 in the first eight games.
Much of Atlanta's plans hinges on whether they can depend on former first-round pick Sam Baker to play up to his capability. Baker lost his starting job last year to veteran Will Svitek and instead saw time at right guard.
Baker, whose back was injured last season, entered camp on Thursday as the starting LG, but coach Smith certainly appreciates his flexibility.
“We’ve got to have tackles that can play guards and guards that can play center,” Smith said.
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