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Early Bird Report: Veteran signings settling in with Falcons; Dimitroff's keys to success as a GM and more

CB Justin Bethel

FLOWERY BRANCH – Today’s Early Bird Report includes a look at how the Falcons’ offseason veteran additions are fitting in with the team as well as an in-depth bike-ride interview between Peter King and Thomas Dimitroff.

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The Falcons didn’t make the big free-agent splashes that, say, a team like the Los Angeles Rams did this offseason, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some veteran newcomers on the roster. Specifically right guard Brandon Fusco, cornerback Justin Bethel, safety Ron Parker, defensive tackle Terrell McClain and tight end Logan Paulsen are the free agents the Falcons added this offseason.

According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the newcomers are fitting in nicely with the Falcons thus far.

Fusco has been rotating with Wes Schweitzer at right guard with the first team, and that evaluation will likely continue into the exhibition games. Bethel, a former Pro Bowler on special teams with the Arizona Cardinals has also been working in at cornerback during training camp. Parker has experience playing many spots in the secondary, but the Falcons have been working him at free safety so far in camp.

McClain figures to be a piece of the defensive line rotation. After spending last season with the Washington Redskins, McClain is back in a four-man defensive front, which should be a better fit with his skills set as our own Matt Tabeek said in a recent edition of Straight From the Beek.

“Now, another big move the Falcons made late in free agency was the signing of defensive tackle Terrell McClain to a one-year deal,” Tabeek writes. “While he didn’t fit well in the Redskins’ 3-4 scheme, McClain was quite active and productive during his tenure with the Cowboys and the 4-3 alignment Rod Marinelli employs. The Falcons think they can tap into that version of McClain here, and that would be a good thing.”

Paulsen is a veteran tight end who has been an effective run blocker during his time in the league and should help fill that role for the Falcons after they parted ways with Levine Toilolo this offseason.

Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:

NBC Sports: Dimitroff shares secrets to surviving in NFL as GM

Peter King of NBC Sports got out of the office and onto the roads for an interview with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, joining Dimitroff on a bike ride to the team’s practice facility to view a training camp practice. During the ride, King asked Dimitroff about life as an NFL general manager and what it takes to survive in the profession.

“I think it has a lot to do with making sure you have the right relationships, the right communicative approach, a culture that’s correct and, in my mind, steeped in positive, passionate and persevering people,” Dimitroff said. “It’s not always about the smartest, it’s not always about the most talented. I learned a lot from Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli in that realm.”

To see the rest of King’s bike ride with Dimitroff, click here.

ESPN: Ranking the under-25 talent of all 32 NFL teams

In a recent ESPN Insider piece – which means you’ll need a subscription to read it – Scott Kacsmar ranked a 32 NFL teams based on the talent of their players who are under 25. This exercise is meant to gauge which teams might be best set up for future success.

The Falcons have a number of talented young players, but they aren’t as high on this list as some might expect. There is a good reason for that, though, which subscribers to the site can check out by following this link.

The Ringer: The X-factors for all 32 NFL teams

“X-factor” is a common term in the sporting world, describing a player who could swing a game based on his level of play. The Ringer’s Danny Kelly recently named each NFL team’s X-factor for the upcoming season, and his choice for the Falcons makes plenty of sense.

Kelly chose running back Tevin Coleman as his X-factor in Atlanta, and the fourth-year running back is a unique weapon for the Falcons’ offense.

“This year, Sark’s installed new wrinkles in the scheme and the plan is to use both backs on the field together more frequently, getting Coleman more involved as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and on the wing,” Kelly writes. “Defenses must decide how to match up with an offense that can run or pass from this set, and Coleman’s versatility as both a runner and receiver could be the key to a bounce-back year for that group.”

To see what else Kelly had to say about Coleman and his choices for the other NFL teams, click here.

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