The Atlanta Falcons need help in their secondary, especially in nickelback sets, and they may find it in an unlikely source. According to Falcons secondary coach Tim Lewis, backup safety Rafael Bush has surprisingly joined Christopher Owens and Dominique Franks in competing for the nickel spot, and has done quite well. In an interview with D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Lewis says Bush has "done a great job there [at nickelback]" and all three of the candidates are "getting as many repetitions as the rules allow."
Bush has yet to appear in an NFL game, having joined the Falcons' practice squad last April and remaining there for the first 16 weeks of the 2010 season. Though Atlanta activated him for its season finale against the Carolina Panthers, Bush didn't play in that game.
Indeed, a player with no NFL experience is seriously challenging two higher-profile players for an important role on a solid team. Though Franks appeared in just two games in 2010, his rookie season, he made quite the impression, tallying one interception returned for 40 yards. Owens, the 90th pick in the 2009 draft, tallied 21 tackles and one interception last season.