FLOWERY BRANCH – Today’s Early Bird Report includes the position battle that one reporter views as the top one for the Falcons as well as Matt Ryan’s place in Pro Football Focus’ quarterback rankings for 2018.
- Here are the 10 biggest takeaways after eight day of training camp
- Falcons rule out Bryant, Sambrailo for Friday's preseason opener
- Matt Ryan says Freeman and Coleman are 'better than ever'
- Falcons agree to three-year extension with Ricardo Allen
- Poole on his journey: 'All I want to do is win'
- Takeaways: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9
While competition seems to be the overarching theme of the Falcons 2018 AT&T Training Camp, there don’t appear to be a number of wide-open training camp battles. With several returning starters on both sides of the ball, the Falcons can focus on building chemistry and quality depth.
There are still a few spots where the Falcons appear to be evaluating a battle for a starting spot, however, including right guard, which ESPN’s Vaughn McClure named as the top position battle to watch in Atlanta.
“The Falcons seem willing to make it a true competition despite signing veteran Brandon Fusco in free agency,” McClure writes. “Wes Schweitzer, who started 16 games last season, could get a shot if he shows improvement from last year's shaky performance. Ben Garland might get a look, too, although Garland seems better suited for a backup utility role at guard and center. And with left guard Andy Levitre's injury history, it's wise to have other guys prepared just in case.”
The Falcons have rotated Fusco and Schweitzer at first-team right guard on a daily basis thus far in camp, and head coach Dan Quinn has continued his evaluations well into the preseason in years past.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
AJC: Ryan and offense emphasizing improved goal-line efficiency
Ahead of the 2018 season, the Falcons have a couple of major areas of emphasis: Improving the turnover margin and greater consistency in the red zone. The red zone has been a major talking point thus far in camp, and quarterback Matt Ryan continued to talk about it after Monday’s practice.
“There’s definitely a point of emphasis for us to continue to get good work in the red area, try to be more productive, score more touchdowns than we did last year,” Ryan said. “I think there’s an urgency from the players of getting the extra work that we need to try to be more productive in that.”
Max Marcovitch of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote a bit more on the emphasis the Falcons have placed on improved goal-line efficiency, which you can read here.
NFL.com: Are Dez Bryant and the Saints a good fit?
Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant remains on the open market and looking for a new home. In a segment for “Good Morning Football,” Peter Schrager debated whether or not Bryant would be a good fit in New Orleans. The Saints look to have one of the NFL’s most exciting offenses, but would Bryant be a good fit for that bunch?
To find out what Schrager had to say on the matter, click here.
Pro Football Focus: NFL quarterback rankings for 2018
The NFL quarterback hierarchy is one of the most popular debates among football fans, and it’s one that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a player who is often at a number of different spots in a given ranking, depending on who is creating it, but he’s proven himself to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
In their quarterback rankings entering the 2018 season, Pro Football Focus showed just how highly they think of the 2016 league MVP. Ryan is ranked third on PFF’s ranking, behind only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
“Last season was not as bad as the stats would indicate while 2016 may not have been as good as the MVP stats showed, but Ryan is a consistent, top-tier quarterback,” PFF’s Steve Palazzolo writes. “He ranked third last year with an 88.3 grade and second in 2016 with a 92.2 grade, and the story of last year was his ranking first at avoiding turnover-worthy plays while finishing 14th in interception percentage (poor interception luck).”