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Roster Battles Update Pt. 1

August 17th, 2008

I plan on doing the defense later, but here’s my take on how some of the offensive position battles have gone so far, and where they may be headed with two more weeks of preseason left. The Falcons play the Titans next Friday, and the following Tuesday is the first roster cutdown. They will have to get the roster from 80 to 75 players. Then the following Thursday they will end the preseason against the Ravens, and the final cutdown to 53 will be two days later on Saturday, August 30.

QB: I think Harrington and Shockley’s battle for the No. 3 job is going to come down to the final preseason contest. It’s too close to call right now. At this point, I’d expect the team to sit both Ryan and Redman for the final game, that way they can get a long look at both players. That will likely be the game that Shockley will make or break this competition since it’s expected that’ll be the game he’ll work with the first unit, and may get an entire half to showcase his skills.

RB: I think Brown is leading Snelling so far. But I think it’s still fairly close between the two. Brown gets a boost from his return abilities, although he’s been less than impressive in that realm thus far. But if he can show improvement in the next two weeks, Snelling is going to be hard-pressed to overtake him. If Snelling is the loser, I suspect the team will try to get him on the practice squad (right now it looks iffy if he’ll clear waivers), and start working him at fullback some more in practice, since that will presumably be the best chance he has a long-term future with this team.

WR: There is still an ongoing battle for the fifth and likely final receiver spot. Finneran probably has the edge right now because he’s played fairly well, but you can’t count out Jennings just because he still can earn a spot with his return abilities in these final two weeks. Since Brown hasn’t run away with the kickoff return job, which leaves the door open for Jennings. I think Horn and the others are longshots to make the roster. Frankly, I think it would be a very smart move to cut all of them, and hope to re-sign Finneran after Week 1, that way his $1.3 million base salary isn’t guaranteed this year. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Horn part of the first round of cuts on or before August 26.

TE: At tight end, it’s still a toss-up once you get past Hartsock. Milner needs to get healthy, or he might find himself cut. But thus far, it seems none of the others have really stepped up in his absence. Rader looks like the favorite thus far to be the next guy. But honestly, I don’t know with this position. Haven’t paid too much attention to their blocking, which I think will be the difference maker since all of them (besides Milner) are only so-so receivers at best.

OL: Up front, I’m pretty sure the 8-man rotation is set assuming there are no injuries. If Weiner is healthy by the start of the year, he’ll start at RT. I think Dahl has pretty much won the starting RG job as well. I think the 3 top backups will be Stepanovich, Ojinnaka, and Clabo. Between those 3, they provide depth at all 5 spots and that’s all you really need. But the team may decide to keep a 9th guy since some of those guys have had injuries thus far in camp. And I don’t think that guy is going to be Forney. Right now, I think the only way Forney stays if either starting guards get hurt. And even then, I think the team would prefer the much cheaper Clabo. That battle for possible 9th man is basically between Batiste, Pennington, and Wilkerson. None of them seemingly have done much to step ahead of the pack, nor do I really care if one does. They’re not going to play unless there’s multiple injuries anyway. The team is probably better off scouring the waiver wire in a few weeks.

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