Camp Battles 2012: Around the League
The interesting thing about training camp competitions is that they are very fluid. A player can get hurt, and thus give an opportunity for another player to nail down a job. Sometimes players are given opportunities, but don’t take advantage of those opportunities. It often means teams have to look outside their 90-man roster to address these concerns.
Injuries are impossible to predict, but are certain to occur. So with that in mind, I won’t try to project where they might occur. But that doesn’t mean that the Falcons don’t have some areas of weakness that by the end of camp, they might try to bolster. Last year, it was their depth in the secondary, as they added James Sanders and Kelvin Hayden at the start of the regular season. The Falcons have regularly picked up veteran players over the course of training camp and after the final cutdowns to bolster weak areas, and this year that could again happen. The positions that entering camp seem to be the most tenuous appear to be depth at tight end and the open competition they have for their return duties.
With that in mind, here’s some players in other NFL camps that the Falcons could be monitoring and keep on their radar as additions the team could make at the end of August or beginning of September.
RB Deji Karim, Colts
Karim handled return duties while in Jacksonville, and his familiarity with Dirk Koetter’s offense could make him a pickup late in the summer. He’s likely on the outside looking in as far as making the Colts roster.
RB Marcus Thigpen, Dolphins
Thigpen is a dark horse, but he played for running backs coach Gerald Brown while they were both at Indiana. Thigpen was a prolific kick returner during his time there, and could be a guy on the Falcons radar as a potential returner.
WR Ted Ginn, 49ers
Some speculate that Ginn could be on the outs given the improved depth the 49ers added at wide receiver by picking up Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and A.J. Jenkins, as well as the improvements Kyle Williams has made in the return game. Ginn is set to make around $1 million this year and could be cut if he doesn’t outright win a spot as a returner. He played for Keith Armstrong and Terry Robiskie during his rookie season in Miami. If the Falcons were to go after Ginn, it would likely require them to have to part ways with a draft pick since he’ll likely be a hot commodity on the open market. He was after all arguably the league’s top returner last season.
WR Michael Jenkins, Vikings
The former Falcon is potentially a player that could be cut by the Vikings. And if the price is right, the Falcons could bring Jenkins back. While Jenkins wouldn’t help their return game, he does have experience playing special teams and could be a potential upgrade over Kerry Meier.
WR Johnny Knox, Bears
If Knox was healthy, he would be an ideal pickup for the Falcons. His vertical abilities coupled with his return skills would make him a great pickup by the Falcons. But Knox is coming off a severe neck injury, and his football-playing future is questionable.
WR Tiquan Underwood, Buccaneers
Underwood played under Koetter in Jacksonville, has experience as a return threat. He might make the Bucs roster because he played for new head coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, but they have a lot of bodies in camp and it won’t be a guarantee.
WR Jacoby Jones, Ravens
WR Brandon Tate, Bengals
WR Roscoe Parrish, Chargers
TE Chris Cooley, Redskins
Cooley has dealt with injuries the past few years and might be on the outs in Washington. Questions about his durability would need to be answered, but a healthy Cooley would definitely be one of the top No. 2 tight ends in the league in a Falcons uniform.
TE Ben Watson, Browns
Watson is penciled in as the Browns starter is probably safe. But with his higher salary, there’s a chance that the Browns turn to the young guns in Evan Moore and Jordan Cameron if need be. Watson is a Georgia grad that can definitely add depth as a blocker and receiver.
TE Daniel Fells, Patriots
Fells was picked up by the Patriots in the off-season, but is no sure bet to make the roster as he has dealt with injury during the off-season.
TE Daniel Graham, free agent
The Falcons kicked the tires on Graham earlier this off-season, and if need be will re-open that door if they don’t like the way competition fares in camp.