1) Defense always has the upper hand the first few weeks of NFL training camp. Defensive players read and react where as the offensive guys are trying to get their timing down. Even more so when a new offensive scheme is being installed and the lineman need name tags to help with all the new faces.
So there’s no sense in sounding like an alarmist just 7 days into training camp. But this offensive line is a concern. Can this line stay healthy? Will the depth be any better than last the last two seasons.
The Falcons used 10 different starting offensive line combinations the last 2 years. They had so many linemen go down in the Vikings game last September that Levin Toilolo was forced to play right tackle in the second half.
2) When you have a center in Joe Hawley coming off a knee injury and your starting left tackle and first round pick Jake Matthews coming off foot surgery that’s nothing to brush off. Combined with the fact you have no idea who your right tackle will be (projected started Ryan Schrader has missed practice withy hamstring trouble). Jon Asamoah returns as right guard and former Ram Mike Person and 32 year old Chris Chester are battling for left guard.
And there’s the other issue, the big guys we added for depth in the off season are either a dude at the end of his career or a guy who’s played on 3 different teams in 2 years.
Keep your fingers crossed that a starting 5 can gel, learn the rhythm of the zone blocking scheme and keep Matt Ryan upright.
Matt Ryan is hoping that some 2 tight end sets with Julio set wide will help get the running game some traction. If Kyle Shanahan’s QB rollouts and play action will hopefully have opposing defenses guessing wrong.
3) A week into camp and the projected starting running back rotation is down with hamstring issues. Tevin Coleman the blazing fast Indiana rookie tweaked his hammy Wednesday and Devonta Freeman left practice today with a hamstring strain.
I’m not worried about the defense. Adding some cigar store Indians as pass rushers would probably get you the same result as last season off the edge for the Falcons.
4) Last season’s whipping boy on Hard Knocks Ra’Shede Hageman looks lean and mean. He realizes that the verbal abuse from Bryan Cox created the impression he was an immature, unmotivated and over valued rookie.
After some off season MMA style training with Jay Glazer and some NFL veterans in L.A., Hageman looks great on the field and is saying all the right things off it.
5) Former Buccaneer Adrian Clayborn might not have been on the top of Falcons fans free agent wish list last Spring, but he’s has been a beast so far at training camp. Its hard to miss number 99 blowing up blocks.
(Bonus) Vic Beasley show explosive speed but the knock on him as an average run stopper so far is ringing true.
Some other observations real quick… Julio Jones looks even faster (if that’s possible). Un-drafted free agent from Oregon State rookie RB Terron Ward looks like a cross between former Falcon Warrick Dunn & human bowling ball Darren Sproles…so I’ve been calling him Warrick Sproles.
His in your face block of Vic Beasley sent the Clemson pass rusher to the sideline and impressed the coaching staff and fans. One thing for certain when it comes to getting the starting gig in the backfield you gotta be able to pas block. That was the reason Antone Smith didn’t get more touches despite getting the end zone every 10 touches. At least I think that was the reason, Mike Smith never really made that clear.
Speaking of the Head Coach, it’s just a complete 180 degree turn from last year’s vibe, the music blasting, the energy under Dan Quinn is fun to be around.