Roddy White – This is a no brainer. Roddy is on a ridiculous pace so far this year with his production. His 70 catches in 9 games makes him on pace for 124 receptions this year. For the record, the single season record for receptions is 143 which Marvin Harrison accomplished in 2002. But the second most ever is 123, accomplished by Herman Moore in 1995 and Wes Welker in 2009.
Michael Palmer – In the absence of Justin Peelle, the undrafted rookie has performed well as a role player, contributing as a receiver and blocker. His play hasn’t been stellar but he’s made some key blocks in recent games and been a very reliable outlet for Ryan underneath. He looks like a keeper long-term. If his play continues to improve, the Falcons may have little reason to bring Peelle back next year.
Vance Walker – It’s been several games in a row that Walker has made his presence known. He isn’t an impact player, but relative to the other Falcons defensive tackles, he has made a few plays each week and been a solid run defender. The Falcons should think long and hard about promoting him to the starting lineup for the remainder of the year instead of Corey Peters, who has struggled vs. the run in recent weeks.
Harry Douglas – He has virtually disappeared since Michael Jenkins return to the lineup a month ago. And even before that he wasn’t a major contributor to the offense. He dropped a key pass on the Falcons final drive vs. the Ravens. Thankfully, Jenkins made a spectacular catch on the next play to continue the drive. His lapses in concentration appear to be similar to what White suffered early in his career. Hopefully in the case of White, that is more due to youth than an apparent lack of ability. One of the few things that Douglas has done well this year is in yards after the catch (averaging 5.6 yards per reception). His lone reception vs. Baltimore showcased this, so to help get him out of his funk the Falcons may want to try and get him more opportunities to exploit this strength.
Brent Grimes – Grimes has had a solid year, but has been picked on several times in recent weeks. He gave up only four receptions vs. Tampa Bay, but all four instances were third downs that moved the chains. And he was beat twice for scores against Baltimore. He’s made interceptions in each game, and been in position on most of his blown coverages. But being in position hasn’t been enough, and he needs to be more opportunistic in those instances to either make the play or prevent the reception.
Sean Weatherspoon & Stephen Nicholas – Through no fault of his own (*shakes fist at Football Gods*), Weatherspoon’s stock has been down due to him being on the sideline. His knee injury has lingered for weeks when it was expected he would only miss one game (Week 7 vs. Cincinnati) and would be back after the bye for the Week 9 matchup vs. Tampa Bay. But instead, it’s now Week 11 approaching and things don’t look optimistic for him to suit up against the Rams this weekend. The coaching staff was non-committal about his status earlier in the week and he missed Wednesday’s practice. Making matters worse is that his replacement, Stephen Nicholas has struggled in recent games, missing tackles, blowing assignments in coverage. Nicholas gets points for his toughness, physicality, and playing hard. But it’s clear he’s overmatched. He was much better earlier in the year in a limited role where the coaching staff could pick and choose his spots. His play over the past month has done little to infuse confidence in management to suggest he is a potential long-term solution as a starter if the Falcons opt not to keep an aging Mike Peterson after the season.