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Camp Battles: Receivers

July 1st, 2009

I’ve already detailed the quarterback and running back positions, now it’s on to the tight ends and wide receivers.

At at all three spots, the starters are established with Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, and Tony Gonzalez. And Harry Douglas is definitely going to make the roster and work out of the slot.

At wideout, Brian Finneran is the most likely candidate to win the fourth receiver spot. While there has been questions of one of the young prospects pushing him for his spot, unless Finneran gets injured, it’s doubtful he won’t be on the team this fall. The Falcons traditionally keep a fifth wideout, so the remainder of the roster will be battling it out for the final spot. Eric Weems held the spot well last year, but he’ll be challenged by Chandler Williams (who spent the year on the practice squad), Troy Bergeron (a star in the Arena leagues), and three rookie free agents: Aaron Kelly, Darren Mougey, and Bradon Godfrey.

All three rookies are big on size, which will make them attractive developmental options. But more than likely, special teams ability will determine which of these players stays, and that’s why Weems has the advantage due to his experience. But it’s probable that one of these other players will make the practice squad, under the hopes that they can replace Finneran in 2010 after his contract expires this season.

At tight end, there will be a battle between veterans Ben Hartsock and Justin Peelle over who will be the No. 2 option behind Gonzalez. Hartsock is the better blocker, but Peelle isn’t that far behind and gives the team a much better option in the passing game.

More than likely the Falcons will keep both, but it’s not set in stone. A strong summer from either Jason Rader or Keith Zinger could land them the No. 3 job. Both players are capable blockers, but probably will need to show much more consistency and ability as pass catchers to stay on the roster.

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