The 2015 season is approaching and it's time to get a little more familiar with these 12 Falcons team records every fan should know about
While the Falcons received lots of attention for their productive draft, their work during free agency didn't gain much fanfare. That's often the case when a household name isn't brought into the fold. Nevertheless, Atlanta added a collection of talented, high-potential veterans who can patch up various holes throughout the roster. Here are five such players to watch during XFINITY® Training Camp.
Replacing left guard Justin Blalock, who spent eight seasons in Atlanta, will be no easy task. If there's anyone on the current depth chart who can fill that void, it's probably Chris Chester, signed in May after a four-year stint in Washington.
Chester and Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, a former Washington coach, know each other well. Certainly, the 6-foot-3 offensive guard was brought on board because Shanahan believes he can succeed in the outsize-zone blocking scheme Atlanta will utilize moving forward. Chester will be expected to jump right into the mix and show the staff he can be a stable presence next to tackle Jake Matthews.
Deemed Atlanta's best free agent acquisition by Sports Illustrated, Justin Durant may be one of the winter's most underrated signings. He got off to a great start in 2014, registering 49 tackles, four pass deflections, two forced fumbles and an interception in just six games, but unfortunately, a bicep tear would cut his year short.
Durant will undoubtedly be an upgrade at linebacker if he can return to form. And, although he's likely to play on the weak side, the former Hampton University Pirate has the versatility to play at all three LB positions. Without question, Durant sees himself as a great fit in Atlanta's defense.
As a front-seven defender with experience in Dan Quinn's system, O'Brien Schofield has already become something of an adviser to many of his teammates. Hailing from Camden, S.C., a few hours up I-20, Schofield tallied a pair of sacks in 2014 and should give Atlanta some much-needed pass rushing depth. Expected to be a rotational edge-rusher, the 28-year-old could aid the development of Atlanta's younger defenders — especially Vic Beasley, Jr.
A reliable and underrated pass-catcher, Jacob Tamme could blossom as a true No. 1 tight end for the Falcons. His name may not move the needle, but his body of work — which includes 631 receiving yards in 2010 — speaks for itself. Had Tamme not spent most of his career behind the likes of Dallas Clark and Julius Thomas, he'd probably get a lot more recognition. The former Bronco and Colt will compete with a trio of TEs, most notably Tony Moeaki, another FA addition with promise.
Expected by many be a starter from Day 1, Brooks Reed could significantly improve the Falcons' linebacker corps on his own. With lots of experience on the strong side, the former Texan racked up 25 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 2014. Moreover, his Pro Football Focus grade was tops among Houston LBs and was positive in nine of 16 regular season appearances.
Fans attending camp should watch how Reed approaches run defense, an area he's excelled in throughout his career. It'll also be interesting to see how he adjusts to the 4-3 formation after playing the 3-4 in Houston.