Training camp preview: Deion Jones leads deep, versatile linebacker corps

Foye Oluokun, Mykal Walker help make position group Falcons defensive strength

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Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones #45 looks on during organized team activities in Phase III of the Atlanta Falcons offseason program on June 2, 2021.

There's a lot we don't know about this Falcons defense. The starting lineup and two-deep remains uncertain in several spots, with plenty to get worked out over the course of training camp.

Linebacker isn't one of those areas. The Falcons are straight up set there.

They've got talent, speed and athleticism aplenty, with several modern NFL linebackers adept charging downhill or playing off the ball.

Deion Jones ranks among the NFL's best doing that, playing up to the big-money contract extension earned in 2019. He was all over the place in 2020, recording 106 tackles, two interceptions, 4.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

He's a versatile weapon that should fit well into new coordinator Dean Pees' scheme as part of creative blitzes and a tool dropping back into coverage. He has also stepped into his own as a leader.

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This is no one-man show. Foye Oluokun has established himself as an every-down player while leading the 2020 Falcons with 117 tackles. He also had three sacks and nine quarterback hits.

Both Jones and Oluokun can covers lots of ground and make plays in space, seemingly set up for another season as feature players. Mastering the scheme and its requirements is the primary camp responsibility for both players, in addition to staying healthy this summer. That's why it's doubtful we see them much, if at all, during the preseason.

The Falcons linebacker corps has depth, especially now that Mykal Walker has proved he can play. Expect him to be a significant contributor, especially in packages with three linebackers on the field.

Adding Brandon Copeland in free agency was a smart move that really fortified the crew. There's talent in depth there that other position groups crave and should offer some stability in the middle of the field.

The Falcons need dynamic playmaking from Jones to lead the position group and the defensive unit as a whole. Pairing him with Oluokun has worked out well and adds to the Falcons desired air of unpredictability, given both guys can carry out most every assignment. They can blitz. They can cover. They can tackle well. They can call signals and act as Pees' field generals.

While the Falcons defense has plenty to prove, the linebackers should be a source of reliability key to making improvements in 2021.

Before heading into the 2020 NFL year, we are going to look back at the best images from players on the active roster. Take a look at the best of linebacker Deion Jones

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts #8 during practice in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Thursday, May 5, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

2022 Atlanta Falcons: First Look Open Practice

WHEN: Friday, June 3rd

WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

TIME: 1:30 PM ET

Rise Up Dirty Birds! Be the first to see your 2022 Atlanta Falcons take the field as they prepare for the upcoming season!

Tickets for the open practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be $5 each and all ticket proceeds will go to support the Morehouse School of Medicine's Health Equity Tracker initiative.

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