Here are my pre-camp predictions of what the final 53 man roster will look like based on the outcomes of many of these camp battles.
Starter: Matt Ryan
Backups: Chris Redman, John Parker Wilson
I don’t expect the Falcons to keep only two quarterbacks just because I expect Wilson to show enough this summer to merit the Falcons wanting to develop him long-term as the No. 2 to Matt Ryan.
Starters: Michael Turner, Ovie Mughelli
Backups: Jerious Norwood, Antone Smith, Jason Snelling
No real surprise here. I think the Falcons will keep a fifth back because of what they learned last year with keeping Aaron Stecker on the roster for so long due to the durability issues of Norwood. I think Smith wins that gig because he provides Smith, which could be missing from the lineup in the event that Norwood gets hurt again. But this may be a position that the Falcons address at the end of camp with a veteran pickup given the potential of needing a more reliable third down back than what Smith may offer.
Starters: Michael Jenkins, Roddy White
Backups: Harry Douglas, Brian Finneran, Kerry Meier, Eric Weems
I think the Falcons will keep six because I think Weems will win one of the return jobs, coupled with the fact that Harry Douglas doesn’t appear to be 100% at this juncture. And I don’t expect that to change over the next month, so the Falcons will want to keep an extra body on the roster for depth.
Starter: Tony Gonzalez
Backups: Justin Peelle, Keith Zinger
I’m thinking Zinger stays because of the blocking packages the Falcons like to use in goalline situations. I think one of the rookie free agents (I’m betting Peek) does however land on the practice squad.
Starters: Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, Todd McClure
Backups: Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, Brett Romberg, Will Svitek
I don’t expect any changes to the starting lineup. I think Romberg and Svitek will be the top backups going into the season. Just not sold on Garrett Reynolds beating out Svitek for the top tackle spot. The good thing is that he is eligible for the practice squad, which I think he’ll make. I think Quinn Ojinnaka’s suspension is going to hurt his chances, but I think he was doubtful to make the roster with or without it.
Starters: John Abraham, Jamaal Anderson, Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry
Backups: Kroy Biermann, Chauncey Davis, Corey Peters, Lawrence Sidbury, Vance Walker
Yes, I think Anderson will retain his starting gig if for no other reason than this: first down still remains a run-first down for most of the teams in the league. And since I think Anderson is the superior run defender than Biermann, I think he’ll be more inclined to be out on the field for the first play more often than not. But despite that, it wouldn’t surprise me if Biermann actually plays more. I also think the lingering health issues of Peria Jerry help Anderson’s cause. I’m also giving Vance Walker the edge on the backup defensive tackle position over Thomas Johnson. I don’t see a ton of difference between the two based on their 2009 play, but I think youth will get the nod when it comes down to it.
Starters: Curtis Lofton, Mike Peterson, Sean Weatherspoon
Backups: Spencer Adkins, Stephen Nicholas, Coy Wire
I think Weatherspoon will win a starting job, and I think it might be the weakside spot. Which should bump Peterson over to the strongside if that is the case. I think Adkins and Wire make the roster primarily because of their value on special teams. But I do expect Adkins to be more of a factor this summer on defense.
Starters: Chris Owens, Dunta Robinson
Backups: Dominique Franks, Brent Grimes, Chevis Jackson
I think Owens will win the starting gig just because I think he’s a bit more physical than Grimes is. I think Jackson will show enough improvement this summer that the team will feel keeping Williams is unnecessary because they basically fill the same niche. The Falcons will be young here, but I think they are prepared to roll the dice with that youth this season.
Starters: Erik Coleman, Thomas DeCoud
Backups: William Moore, Shann Schillinger
I think Coleman will retain his starting position this summer, but I think the battle will be close. Schillinger gets the edge for the backup position because of his draft status more than anything. It really only requires a guy to play on special teams, and I don’t expect he’ll struggle to pick that up this summer.
Starters: Matt Bryant, Michael Koenen, Joe Zelenka
No real surprises here. I think the Falcons will opt for experience and go with Bryant, although I don’t expect him to be given as long a leash as Jason Elam was given last year. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Falcons looked at another kicker sometime between the start of camp and the regular season.