Day two of Falcons training camp is in the books, as the team prepares to open up their preseason on August 1st at the Hall-of-Fame against the Denver Broncos. There’s been some good, some bad, and a lot more to figure out, but here was what we know so far.
No team is going to go through an entire NFL season without any injuries, but the final teams standing are often the healthiest. The Falcons were royally screwed last year by the injury-bug once the regular season began. Coincidently, they were the only team to start the year without anyone on IR. Then, they lost three Pro-Bowlers – Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Devonta Freeman – in the first four weeks, along with starters – Ricardo Allen, Derrick Shelby, Brandon Fusco, and Andy Levitre – in the first seven contests. And these weren’t cuts and sprains. All of these players hit Injured Reserve. It was a plague that never allowed Atlanta the opportunity to build any momentum.
2019 is off to a similar start. On the first day of training camp, the Falcons lost J.J. Wilcox for the season with an ACL tear and Michael Bennett indefinitely with a broken ankle. Neither was going to start, but they did provide quality depth options on a defense that showed their depth issues a season ago. Hopefully, this is not a sign of things to come.
We haven’t seen the best of Grady Jarrett
Grady Jarrett has talked about how he is not satisfied after his contract extension and feels more motivated than ever to prove his worth. The newly extended, $68 million man told the media after practice that he’s in the best shape of his life, and it does not look like he’s lying. Dan Quinn also said he expects Jarrett to take another step forward this season. He may be the most valuable player on the defense in 2019.
Expect Chris Lindstrom to start at right guard
The Falcons tripled down at offensive guard in the offseason, signing Jamon Brown and James Carpenter and then drafting Chris Lindstrom 14th overall. While there may be competition for who starts at left guard, the Boston College product seems to be penciled in as the starter on the right side, which should come as no surprise. He was projected as a plug-and-play guy coming out of college.
The left guard spot is a competition
On day one of camp, James Carpenter received first-team reps at left guard. On day two, it was Jamon Brown. Based off previous production, contract size, and the fact that Carpenter has primarily played left guard in his career – while Brown has been a right guard – Carpenter comes into camp as a slight favorite. However, the way the Falcons have handled it suggests there will be plenty of opportunities for Brown to prove his worth.
Falcons will be giving plenty of new looks
With Dan Quinn as the defensive coordinator, there will be several new looks given in 2019. One of them we talked about last month in regards to the Falcons switching to a 3-4 defense. It won’t be a permanent fixture this year, but defensive ends have been practicing standing up in training camp, and Quinn admitted it was something they are going to try. This will not be the same scheme we have seen from the Falcons in previous years.
Injured stars appear well on track for the start of the season
While some reserves have already suffered significant injuries; the Falcons have been careful utilizing their star players in training camp. Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen are each coming off season-ending injuries, and Atlanta has yet to let them go through their typical workloads. However, all signs point to them being in terrific physical shape – well on their way to being prepared for week one.
Deion Jones and Julio Jones have also been held out of team drills and are doing individual work on the side. Both are rehabbing from foot injuries, but there is currently no concern about them being ready for the start of the season.
Devonta Freeman is back on the field, and according to Falcons beat reporter Will McFadden, “looking as sharp as ever.”
John Cominsky is a rookie to watch
The addition of Allen Bailey relieves some pressure off the shoulders of John Cominsky to be an integral part of the defensive line as a rookie. But I wouldn’t count him out of having an impact anyways. He has tremendous size and is a fantastic athlete that can play multiple positions. Dan Quinn has also been impressed by his constant desire to learn and get better. I’m not saying he becomes a starter as a rookie, but if he can cut out a rotational role for himself, that would be a successful campaign for the fourth-round selection out of the University of Charleston.