McClendon Vying for Spot at Center

McClendon Vying for Spot at Center

Jay Adams

Published July 3, 2013 at 9:20 AM

At the center position, all eyes are on Peter Konz and Joe Hawley as the two are expected to have a knock-down, drag-out fight to decide the successor to longtime center Todd McClure.

But is there a wildcard in the bunch, at the very least from a depth perspective?

The name Jacques McClendon may not be a familiar one unless you paid close attention to the Falcons’ transactions during the 2012 season. McClendon was signed to the practice squad in November, a move that was overshadowed by the team releasing Lousaka Polite and signing Mike Cox at fullback.

McClendon, at the end of the season, was signed to a futures deal, but he’s not your average practice squad player. McClendon entered the league with pretty high expectations as a fourth-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 NFL Draft. A former Tennessee Vol, McClendon spent time in Detroit and Pittsburgh before landing here in Atlanta as a practice squad guard.

In a recent article with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which declared him one of the 13 best offensive linemen to ever come out of the Chattanooga area, McClendon said he’s been working quite a bit at center and making the transition. We saw that during OTAs and minicamp as he worked behind Konz and Hawley, alongside college free agent rookie Matt Smith.

Said McClendon about the transition:

“It’s definitely a transition. At first I just thought of myself as a guard who could snap it. By the end of OTAs I was feeling pretty confident with it. There’s a lot of responsibility on you to make the right calls for the line at center. But if anything, it’s made my football IQ even higher, and I think it will only add to my list of skills to bring to the team. All you can ask is to get an opportunity in this league, and I’ve got that. Once you get the opportunity, the rest is up to you, so I’m going to work as hard as I can to make the move to center.”

We’ll see what happens, but McClendon might be a guy to keep an eye on as another versatile player along the offensive front.

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