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Falcons Training Camp Preview: Defensive Position Battles

Honestly, this is probably one of the most stacked defenses I've seen the Falcons field in a while. With the team going out and signing Ray Edwards, the only major need the Falcons had pre-free agency was satisfied. Now as we turn to the defensive side of the ball, some of these battles look to get quite a bit more interesting.

LEFT DEFENSIVE END
Candidates: Ray Edwards,
Kroy Biermann

Probably the biggest decision this camp will be who gets the nominal nod to start across from Abraham. I say nominal, because with the rotating D-line both will probably get their fair share of reps at left end. With Edwards having just signed a five-year contract, you have to think he'll be the favorite going into camp. However, he still has yet to learn the nuances of the Falcons' scheme. Biermann is in a contract year, and shouldn't be counted out.

 DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Candidates:
Peria Jerry, Corey Peters

Again, with a rotating D-line both Jerry and Peters will see time on the field. But this competition is unique in that Jerry, a 2009 first-round pick, was still recovering from an ACL tear last season. With Jerry limited, Peters stepped into the role as a rookie and started all 16 games. It will be interesting to see if Jerry, who has a higher ceiling and pass-rushing potential, can win the job back and prove himself worthy of his high selection.

STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER
Candidates: Mike Peterson,
Stephen Nicholas

Now here is something I wasn't expecting. The Falcons re-signed Nicholas to a five-year deal, and also brought back Mo Pete for one last year with the Falcons. Even at 35, Peterson still can play the run as well as most starting LBs in the league. However, Nicholas is the more complete player, and his pass coverage ability would be less of a liability. My guess is that Nicholas gets the nod, with Peterson providing depth, veteran experience, and team leadership.

NICKELBACK
Candidates: Chris Owens,
Dominique Franks

I still expect the Falcons to sign a veteran, backup cornerback to provide the team with some depth at the position. But for now, Owens and Franks will battle it out for the nickel spot. Owens has more experience and is the more "refined" player of the two. It's also a "put up or shut up" year for the San Jose St. corner. However, Franks has alot of potential. With a year of seasoning under his belt, he could really push Owens for the job.

For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.