Camp Battles 2011: Tight End
There isn’t likely to be a ton of turnover at this position. Like some of the other offensive positions, the primary focus will likely be on getting Tony Gonzalez ready for the regular season.
Like quarterback, there may be an open competition for who serves as his primary backup. The Falcons are likely keen to see what progress, if any, Michael Palmer has made during this off-season. Palmer flashed ability as a reserve receiver, and any improvements he’s made as a blocker can go a long way to push incumbent backup Justin Peelle. As of the end of last year, Peelle was the superior inline blocker, while Palmer flashed a bit more of a skillset as an H-back. The Falcons make ample use of the two-tight end formation. That may decline somewhat with the introduction of Julio Jones at wide receiver, but it’s not going to be completely scrapped. Which means any competition between the two is important for the success of the offense.
Also in camp are Robbie Agnone and Marquez Branson. Neither player is likely to get a lot of opportunity to make headway as far as a roster spot. Although things could change with the introduction of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, under old rules, it appears both would be ineligible to make the team’s practice squad this fall. So in the case of both, they will need to shine in limited opportunities during the preseason and display enough upside that makes the coaches feel they are worth developing long-term.