Camp Battles: Defensive Line
Unlike the offensive line, the defensive line is fairly unsettled as far as the starting lineup. Jonathan Babineaux and John Abraham can be assured of retaining their starting spots, but the other two positions are up for grabs.
At left end, Chauncey Davis and Jamaal Anderson will compete. But this is Anderson’s job to lose. The team is fairly confident that Davis can handle the starting job if need be. He outplayed Anderson last year, despite coming off the bench. This summer may mark the last chance Anderson has to prove his worth. If he doesn’t impress, might find himself in a new city by the end of August.
At nose tackle, Trey Lewis and rookie Peria Jerry are expected to be the primary competitors. It seems the Falcons would prefer for Lewis to win the gig, and Jerry to serve as the backup tackle at both interior spots, but the coaches like Jerry enough that they would feel fairly comfortable starting him right away. Lewis was solid for the first half of 2007 before an injury sidelined him and he missed all of last year as well. So this summer will be really the first chance the coaches get a look at him outside OTAs and some film study. So they definitely aren’t married to him as far as the starting spot goes.
The competition for the backup behind Abraham should also be fairly intense between Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury. The winner of that battle could get a lot of reps on passing downs, subbing for Abraham as well as working opposite him since the team likes to move both Anderson and Davis inside to rush the passer. It’s likely that both players will be retained, since the team is looking to develop more speed off the edge.
Also in the mix inside is Jason Jefferson, Thomas Johnson, Tywain Myles, and Vance Walker. All four are likely competing for probably only one roster spot in the tackle rotation. Jefferson is the most experienced, but Walker is a draft pick, giving him a small boost. Myles and Johnson however offer a bit more beef. But because the team can move either Davis or Anderson inside on passing downs, there isn’t a strong need for a fourth tackle if none of the players steps up.
If I was to make a predict today, I would lean more towards the team keeping five ends and three tackles with Davis and Jerry winning the starting gigs by summer’s end.