The Falcons’ offensive line could feature as many as three new starters in 2022. The unit last year was abysmal — surrendering 40 sacks and being among the league’s worst in rush yards before contact. They were terrible in both facets, pass protection and run blocking. Hence the influx of competition at left guard, center, and right tackle. Thus far, the most healthy rotation has come at center between Drew Dalman and Matt Hennessy. According to Arthur Smith, the player who takes “command” as a leader will be the starter.
“Obviously, the physical stuff, you need to see inside. A lot of it is command,” Smith said. “The really great centers, I mean (we) put Todd McClure in the ring of honor, and from everything I’ve heard about Todd McClure, and Matt (Ryan) will tell you this, when he was a young player, having that veteran center hand a guy who had command, that helps.”
To me, this battle will likely go down to the final preseason game. Hennessy started every game for the Falcons last season, but he and Dalman went through a two-week stretch where they rotated every two offensive series. Last week against the Lions, Hennessey got the start at center, working with the first team offense in Detroit. Dalman should get the start against the Jets if things remain status quo.
We should get answers to the center competition. If Dalman trots out there, the rotation is alive and well. However, if Hennessy is given the nod for a consecutive week, you’ll have your answer. I’d expect Dalman to get the start and the center competition to last until preparation week for the Saints.
The coaching staff has been adamant regarding the center competition being fair. Well, getting an accurate assessment requires similar variables, so Dalman should be able to run with the first-team offensive line. Regardless, expect it to go all the way up to Week 1.
Photographer: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire
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