FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons and Patriots coaching staffs have been selected to coach in the East-West Shrine Bowl on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas. NFL Network's Adam Schefter reported that with head coach and coordinator changes among non-playoff teams, that the Falcons and Patriots best fit the criteria to coach this year's game, even though Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees retired on Monday.
The East-West Shrine Bowl is another chance for top college players to meet (and play in front of) NFL scouts and coaches. With the Falcons coaching staff having been selected to coach one of the teams in this year's game, it will allow them an up-close and personal look at some of these players as they will run practices with their team prior to the game.
Players who have already accepted invitations to the Shrine Bowl include Florida DE Brenton Cox, Georgia LB Robert Beal, Michigan TE Luke Shoonmaker, NC State OG Chandler Zavala and Ohio State DT Taron Vincent.
You can find the full list of the 130 accepted invitees here.
From a developmental standpoint, Arthur Smith said it's also a good opportunity for young coaches on their staff to take on more responsibilities in a game day atmosphere.
"If you are one the staffs with coaches in there, they want it to be about development," Smith said. "It's a lot of the younger (coaches) getting opportunities and bigger roles. That's the format for teams with staffs going down there. I think it's good (because) there are very few opportunities to get real experience."
It should be noted that there will be a little bit of overlap for the Falcons with the Senior Bowl taking place in Mobile, Alabama, on Feb. 4. General manager Terry Fontenot said on Wednesday that the Falcons plan to have significant representation at both locations during the week.
"We'll find the right balance, because there will obviously be good players at each game," Fontenot said about the logistics. "You'll usually have a group of scouts at East-West and then you'll head over to the Senior Bowl. We'll make sure we have both covered."
View of the Falcons from the heights of Mercedes-Benz Stadium during the Sunday afternoon match-up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Game 18.