The Falcons are preparing for their season opener against the Saints this week, and most of the difficult decisions have been made, but one remains — who will be the starting center. The tightest position battle has been between Drew Dalman and Matt Hennessy; according to Arthur Smith, the player who takes “command” as a leader will be the starter.
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. In the Falcons’ preseason opener against the Lions, Hennessey got the start at center, working with the first team offense in Detroit. Dalman got the nod against New York. For the entire offseason, the Falcons have rotated very liberally at the position, and it continued at practice before the matchup versus New Orleans.
Drew Dalman working with the first team at center for the Falcons in the portion of practice open to the media.
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) September 5, 2022
Even the team’s depth chart suggests a neck-and-neck race — listing the starter as Dalman or Hennessy. Arthur Smith is playing this one close to the vest, and with both players taking a similar amount of first-team reps, your guess is as good as mine. If I had to make a wager, I’d go with Dalman because he was the first center out during Sunday’s practice. He’s also had a strong camp and has the advantage of being the new regime’s draft choice, while Hennessy lacks that built-in advantage.
Still, nobody should be surprised if we end up seeing both of these players throughout the season. Arthur Smith has said he won’t rotate during a game like last year, but the pair’s proximity in skill makes them prime candidates for the hook if one underperforms. The Falcons don’t have the most intimidating offensive line, and this could be a weak spot all season long if one of Dalman or Hennessy doesn’t step up.