FLOWERY BRANCH, GA — It wasn't long ago when Justin Blalock was one of the new faces on the Falcons' roster. The three-year veteran spent his first season in 2007 trying to live up to high expectations by earning a starting spot on the line.
Blalock now knows what it's like from the other end of the spectrum with rookie Mike Johnson nipping at his heels for the starting left guard position.
"We're out here competing every day," Blalock said Thursday. "They let every know, you can't come out here and rest on your laurels. Fifth-year guy or fifteenth-year guy, it doesn't matter. The best players are going to play. (The coaches) really embrace that attitude to get the best out of us."
The battle for the starting left guard position has been somewhat quiet considering all the higher profile jobs up for grabs in training camp, but this one is no less important.
With cohesion so important within a starting group of offensive linemen, Blalock is working closely with the man trying to take his position. Johnson, a third-round pick of the Falcons out of Alabama, is pushing Blalock to become better simply through his presence.
Blalock knows that will only make things easier once the season gets started.
"It makes everyone better when everyone's going full-tilt and not holding anything back," Blalock said. "It also makes the games easier. When we go out, we get used to getting really good looks from the defensive players and you've got guys behind you that can play ball, as well. A rising tide will raise all the ships, so that's what we've got going on."
Meier making an impact: A week into camp, wide receiver Kerry Meier has turned a lot of heads and made quite a few impressions on coaches and media members. With just a few roster spots and a crowded group at the position, Meier has done all he can to make sure he make the decision the coaching staff will eventually have to make about the roster a very difficult one.
Meier, however, doesn't seem to see what everyone else has. Perhaps he's too humble for that.
"There's a lot of critiques. That's the good part about it is I'm making a lot of mistakes, but the crucial part, the big part about it is I'm learning from those mistakes," Meier said. "The key to doing that is learning from those mistakes and not making the same mistake and working on those mistakes that you learned and not repeating those."
Meier is making sure that he comes out to camp and works on one little thing; one thing that could help make his game better. With so many other players at his position, Meier knows he needs to do everything he can to get some sort of edge.
"It's definitely a lot of competition, which is great," he said. "I love the competition. I love coming out and here and just trying to better my abilities each day and just trying to get better as an individual. I know if I'm getting better individually, we're getting better as a team. That's what it's all about."