Falcons Countdown to Camp: OL

Falcons Countdown to Camp: OL

Jay Adams

Published July 9, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Russell Athletic Atlanta Falcons Training Camp is around the corner, beginning July 25, and AtlantaFalcons.com will take you through some of the need-to-know information for all position groups, including additions, departures and key battles.

TACKLES
Things are set at the left tackle position with Sam Baker entrenched on Matt Ryan’s blind side, but the right side will be one to watch with Mike Johnson and Lamar Holmes in the fold.
Veterans: Sam Baker, Mike Johnson, Lamar Holmes
Departures: Tyson Clabo, Will Svitek
Additions: Ryan Schraeder (college free agent), Terren Jones (college free agent) and Alec Savoie (college free agent)
Key Battle: All eyes will be on the right tackle position as Johnson and Holmes battle it out for the starting spot. Johnson has the edge with his experience, heading into his fourth year, but Holmes was drafted in the third round in 2012 as someone the Falcons believed would be able to make an impact. The question behind the eventual starter becomes depth, and the Falcons have rookies in Schraeder (Valdosta State), Jones (Alabama State) and Savoie (McNeese State) to look at.

GUARDS
At left guard, Justin Blalock is as steady as they come. After being lost around the midway point of the 2012 season due to injury, is the right guard spot Garrett Reynolds’ to lose heading into camp?
Veterans: Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds, Phillipkeith Manley, Harland Gunn
Departures: None
Additions: Theo Goins (college free agent)
Key Battle: Head coach Mike Smith repeats it every year to the point of it being a mantra: There’s always competition at every position. So, with Reynolds returning from a back injury after missing part of the 2012 season (then-rookie Peter Konz filled in there for him for the rest of the year), is it safe to assume that Reynolds will just slide right back into the starting lineup? The Falcons liked what they saw in Manley last year as an undrafted free agent and kept him around between the active and practice squad rosters. The battle between the two might be one of the less talked about of camp, if a battle takes place there at all.

CENTERS
Longtime center Todd McClure called it a career after the 2012 season, leaving a large void in the Falcons offensive line. Whoever takes his spot will be stepping into some pretty big shoes, and the battle here could be epic.
Veterans: Joe Hawley, Peter Konz, Jacques McClendon
Departures: Todd McClure
Additions: Matt Smith (college free agent)
Key Battle: After stints at the guard position, Hawley and Konz are back at their natural spot and they’ll fight over who gets to be the successor to McClure. Hawley has NFL experience at both center and guard while Konz played just guard during his rookie year, a position that he hadn’t played in college at Wisconsin. McClendon — a fourth-year lineman out of Tennessee — might be the wildcard here. Originally a fourth-round selection by Indianapolis, the Falcons added McClendon as a guard last year and are cross-training him at center.

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