The exit of Eric Weems in the offseason has created quite the opportunity for someone among the wide receiver ranks. After Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas, wide receiver is wide open.
Returning is Kerry Meier, who expects to make a bigger impact, a year removed from a knee injury. Kevin Cone and Drew Davis both spent time with the Falcons last year, mostly on the practice squad. Cone was promoted to the active roster for the final game of the season.
Weems leaves big shoes to fill, not just as a receiver, but also on special teams. Weems was a key player on special teams, serving as the kick and punt returner, but also was a stand out in coverage teams. Head coach Mike Smith said special teams will be a vital piece of figuring out who will fill the fourth and fifth wide receiver positions.
"I think that fourth and fifth position at the wide receiver, a lot of it will be dictated by what they can do on special teams," Smith said on Sunday. "That receiver is normally a significant contributor on special teams. The guy we had last year, Weems, did a real good job. "
On Friday, wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie said the players that fill the shoes of Weems, will be expected to be players like Weems, key contributors on special teams and able to come up in a pinch as a wide receiver.
While Cone and Davis have a leg up on the competition, there are a number of wide receivers in the rookie minicamp that could possibly fight for those roles as well, but no matter what, special teams play is significant.
"Those guys (Cone and Davis), I think, have more knowledge than they did last year," Smith said. "It's really going to come down to what they do on special teams. Those two spots, we need to have someone that can play in what we call our 'Big-Four' special teams."
It's a message that has been delivered to the players. Cone understands clearly how he can make the roster and is hoping to do something about it.
"Special teams are huge," Cone said. "I want to be on every special teams. That's the main key to me getting on the field. I'm trying to improve everyday on special teams."