It was only the second day of the Falcons' mini-camp, but already we had some big questions answered. We heard just under a month ago that the plan would be to play Dunta Roninson at nickel, but now we're seeing that in practice-- the result is very good. What's more, it has allowed Asante Samuel to work almost exclusively against Roddy White, which White says has been fantastic:
"I love that guy (Samuel). He keeps the defense hot and brought that spark to the team."
Meanwhile, White's opposing receiver Julio Jones continued looking great this early in the season. Though they were some light, non-contact 7-on-7 drills, he bested his man on several occasions, and continues to build a great rapport with Matt Ryan. While premature, there's little doubt Jones can become a #1 receiver in time, and he seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder right now; understandable, given he was overlooked by so many in the effusive praise given to Bengals' rookie A.J. Green last year.
Everything is going swimmingly to Dirk Koetter's offense, but on the other side of the ball Mike Nolan is being quite frank about what his defense needs, and where the deficiencies are. This from D. Orlando Ledbetter:
Nolan is pleased with the play of safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, but doesn't see much depth at the position.
The DC is right, there is a need to cultivate more depth at the safety position. Thankfully the cadre of excellent cornerbacks should ameliorate the lack of depth at S, should the need arise. If you were wondering if Nolan, a traditional 3-4 guy would change the defensive focus, he had answers for that too:
"We'll be 4-3 and we'll use 3-4 at times, but we'll be primarily a 4-3 because this team was built that way, you want to play to your players' strengths."
Hybridization of NFL defenses is something we're seeing more, and more of in the NFL-- it ensures the best players are on the field at all times, and can compensate for issues. If nothing else the Falcons look to be exciting on both sides of the ball, and that is a very good thing.
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