Pro Bowl Safeties Keeping Eye on Backup Spots

Pro Bowl Safeties Keeping Eye on Backup Spots

Jay Adams

Published August 13, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Every day and in every position, there’s some kind of battle going on during Russell Athletic Training Camp. With a few exceptions, most of the 90 players currently on the roster have a test to face each time they step on the field for practice or a preseason game.

Thomas DeCoud and William Moore are two of those exceptions, with the starting spots at safety all but locked up by the two Pro Bowlers. Behind them, however, there’s an interesting battle brewing that seems like a coin flip with three preseason games to go.

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Veteran safeties Shann Schillinger and Charles Mitchell — the two players who backed up DeCoud and Moore last season — are hoping to hold onto their spots, but rookie safeties Kemal Ishmael and Zeke Motta — both of whom were drafted by the Falcons in April — are looking to supplant them.

The Pro Bowlers are keeping their eyes on the competition. While they prefer to look ahead, DeCoud and Moore know when is the right time to keep an eye on what’s behind them, and should one of them suffer any type of injury, the next man up at any position is all-important.

“I pay a lot of attention to that,” Moore said. “As an older guy, for the most part, it’s become important to me to know who’s behind me as far as, those guys could step up at any second. It’s a long season and they can help contribute to us winning.”

From their perspective, DeCoud and Moore have developed a level of comfort with Schillinger and Mitchell. A member of the 2010 draft class, Schillinger has the most experience of the five players vying for backup roles. He spent last season on injured reserve, but previous to that, he saw a lot of success on special teams.

And that’s where the rookies will have to prove themselves. Mitchell did that last season, as well, as a first-year player out of Mississippi State.

Ishmael and Motta, however, add quite a curveball with strong college backgrounds at the position. Even undrafted rookie Troy Sanders out of Appalachian State is in the mix if he can defy the odds and work his way up the depth chart.

“Shann has really come on. He’s made a lot of plays in this camp,” DeCoud said. “Mitch has made a lot of plays this camp, and the two young rookie safeties have been playing really well, Zeke and Kemal Ishmael. There’s something there for those guys. It’s really good competition, but all of them have made plays and given themselves the opportunity to make the team.”

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