Camp Battles 2011: Cornerbacks

It has been rumored that the Falcons might pursue a free agent corner on the open market, but it would appear that only a low-level signing is in the books as the team wants to stress fiscal responsibility.

But that won’t mean that there won’t be significant competition at this position during camp. As the team will be primarily looking for someone to step up and fill the void at nickel cornerback.

That role is likely to be held by Chris Owens. He entered last year as the nickel corner, but after a dismal mid-season performance against the Bengals last year as an injury replacement for injured starter Dunta Robinson, he was benched and veteran Brian Williams took over. Williams is a free agent, and previous reports indicate that the Falcons will likely decline to bring him back. That leaves Owens as the front-runner for the job going into this summer.

He’ll be pushed by Dominique Franks, who earned limited playing time a year ago as a rookie. Franks has a chance to unseat Owens, but due to his lack of experience playing in the slot, it’s probably Owens job to lose.

It’s possible that the Falcons could go after a veteran free agent to hold the spot, but that would only happen if the right price comes along.

Both starters are locked in, with Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes coming off solid years. Those four players are virtual shoe-ins to make the roster, leaving the possibility of a fifth player. If Williams is not retained, that spot will default to Rafael Priest the only other corner on the roster. But it seems certain that if not via veteran free agency, certainly undrafted free agency the Falcons will add some players that can push him for that spot. If the Falcons do not like how that open competition goes, then the possibility that Williams is signed at or near the end of camp increases.

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Aaron Freeman
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