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Five Under-The-Radar Impact Players

Posted Jul 22, 2013

With top players at a number of positions, the Falcons have plenty of high-profile impact players on this year's roster. They also have players that are vital to this year's plans in the form of under-the-radar players with the potential to make a big impact in 2013.




Every new season brings new impact to the fold and this 2013 season shouldn't be any different for the Falcons. Some players will rise up from roster obscurity to make an impact halfway through the season while others will wow coaches from the first day of training camp and not let up. Who makes an unexpected impact this year remains to be seen, but there's more than a few players that will play important roles this year that you're not thinking about.

Last week we looked at five things you won't want to miss if you're coming to training camp. Today, we'll look at five players who are using this year's camp to put themselves in position to be important when the season rolls around. They're all players you've heard of, but you may not realize the impact they could have in 2013.

5. Robert Alford: It's true that Alford's rookie corner counterpart Desmond Trufant may win a starting job this year, leaving Alford to provide talented depth. Falcons head coach Mike Smith said both players will get plenty of time on the field and while it's not a foregone conclusion Trufant wins the battle, Alford will still be trying to win yet another job on Atlanta's roster: return man. Billed as one of the top returners in the draft this year, Alford will look to lock up a job as the Falcons' top returner in 2013. If he can do that and then turn his exciting athleticism into production on the field in the return game, Alford will be making an impact this year at a position that can be game-changer.

4. Peter Konz: While he hasn't yet nailed down the starting job, second-year lineman Peter Konz will be gunning for the center job vacated this year by longtime Falcon Todd McClure. Konz, a 2012 second-round pick, was a 10-game starter last year at guard, but he was regarded as one of the top centers in the '12 draft. This year he slides over to hopefully start a career at center much like McClure's 14-year run. Konz will be expected to anchor the line and provide the kind of leadership and direction that McClure provided and help keep Matt Ryan clean, upright and throwing down the field. Ryan has already noted Konz' work ethic and maturity and doesn't anticipate any issues in working with the second-year center in 2013.

3. Jonathan Massaquoi: He didn't see much time until late last year, but the pass-rushing specialist from Troy enters his second season as a key rotational defensive end for this year's Falcons. The Falcons brought in Osi Umenyiora in the offseason, but the D-line is otherwise young and Massaquoi will have an opportunity to turn his solid experience last season into more playing time this year. Massaquoi has the ability to be a strong pass rusher and he demonstrated that in college, recording 19.5 sacks in 25 games. He'll be given plenty of chances this year to put up solid NFL sack numbers and if he does, he'll be giving the Falcons much-needed pass rush assistance.

2. Corey Peters: After an encouraging 2011 season with three sacks and an interception from the defensive tackle position, Corey Peters looked like he'd be an extremely valuable piece for the Falcons in 2012. An injury slowed him down considerably and he wasn't able to get on the field until Week 8, but this season he should be back to full health and he's going to be a necessary part of a defensive tackle position that has some good depth this season. He's a versatile player and he's able to help coordinator Mike Nolan execute his ever-changing looks on defense. He can play inside and outside in different formations and should combine with Jonathan Babineaux to give the Falcons the 1-2 punch inside they had in 2011.

PHOTOS: See Images From Kroy Biermann's Career

1. Kroy Biermann: The popular Kroy Biermann may not be so under-the-radar, but some of the things he'll do in 2013 could go unnoticed. This season marks the second season for Biermann in Nolan's scheme and the defense will rely on Biermann's versatility to help it keep opposing offenses' off balance. Biermann can line up at defensive end and at linebacker in the Falcons' defense and that multiplicity will likely continue this season according to Smith. Some may not notice Biermann unless he's bringing down a ball carrier or a QB in the backfield, but just his presence on the field will do for the defense what running back Steven Jackson's presence can do for the offense. By being on the field and being able to do different things, he's a wildcard opponents will have to contend with. Biermann can rush the quarterback and drop back into coverage from anywhere on the field and with a year of experience under Nolan, 2013 really could be the breakout year many have been anticipating for Biermann since he joined the team in 2008.