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Question of the Week: What will be the most exciting position battle to watch through Falcons training camp? 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – All right people! Training camp is right around the corner. Truly. It's almost here. We're excited about it and you should be, too.

With so many new faces around, the storylines throughout the 2023 training camp are numerous. But for the sake of this Question of the Week installment, Scott and Tori try to narrow down the storylines to a couple.


So, we ask the question: What will be the most exciting competition to watch throughout the first weeks of training camp? We're glad you asked.

Tori: I have to go with nickel. I'm pretty excited to see how that position shakes out throughout camp with Dee Alford and Mike Hughes battling it out.

Alford had a really, really good spring. Coaches had a lot of nice things to say about what they saw from him, and he was rewarded for it. He took the majority of the would-be first-team reps at nickel. He also has a chance to become the team's primary punt returner with Avery Williams out for the season with a knee injury. But… So does Hughes. He's battling for the nickel spot. He's also in on the punt return competition, too.

Hughes and Alford are fighting for the same spot, but how they got to this point is drastically different. Hughes was a former first round pick who's had to work through some pretty intense injuries. He's on a two-year deal with Atlanta and ready for a fresh start. Then there's Alford, who the Falcons found playing in the CFL and has since kept him around because, well, he's helped them at every turn. He's been a diamond in the rough to a certain extent. So, how do these stories shape out in 2023? I think it'll be an intense competition to figure it out.


Scott: Tori picked a good one. It will be interesting to see how the slot cornerbacks shake out.

I'm flipping it to the other side of the ball, though, looking straight at a position that has been unstable for a long, long time.

Yep. You guessed it.

Left guard.

A rotating cast has manned the position in recent years, without tons of success (or continuity) holding down the fort. Elijah Wilkinson and Matt Hennessy were good there in 2022, but neither guy could stay healthy. Josh Andrews was supposed to help out in 2021, but he got hurt and that forced rookie Jalen Mayfield into an uncomfortable position after mostly playing guard in college.

The Falcons have Hennessy back and trade up in 2023's second round to select Syracuse's Matt Bergeron, a career tackle the Falcons are moving inside. While many national publications are anointing Bergeron as the starter, I would hold off on that.

Bergeron has played tackle during his entire football career, and the move inside isn't always an easy or natural one. Things happen a lot faster on the inside, with defensive tackles and blitzers on you from the snap. Plus, pulling requires some athleticism and moving well in space. Bergeron played inside but a few days during the Senior Bowl and that's it, so he'll need time to develop and get used to the guard spot.

He's certainly capable of doing so. Bergeron is quick and athletic and built like a Mack truck. I just don't think it's fair to assume he can put it all together during the preseason.

If he does, great. If he doesn't, they have Hennessy. He played well at left guard during relatively limited time there and was the primary first-team option during the offseason program, for whatever that's worth. That's a good Plan B, though, and good roster management by the front office. Hennessy takes some pressure off Bergeron, though coaches will certainly push him to develop quickly.

Take a look at our favorite photos of year two players from the 2023 Atlanta Falcons Creative Days.

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