The Falcons don’t have many training camp position battles to monitor. The most notable are the nickel and left guard positions. The latter will be an open competition between Matt Hennessy and rookie second-round pick Matthew Bergeron, but the veteran will get the first crack at the starting gig.
Matt Hennessy will "get the first crack at" the starting left guard spot, Arthur Smith said Wednesday. That means second-round pick Matthew Bergeron will have to make some strides during training camp to get that job.
— Josh Kendall (@JoshTheAthletic) July 26, 2023
This isn’t shocking. This has been the M.O. of the new regime. Rookies will earn their stripes in Atlanta, which isn’t a bad thing. Still, it wouldn’t be great if Hennessy was the opening day starter.
The left guard position has been a revolving door since Arthur Smith took over. The Jalen Mayfield experiment failed miserably, and he’s back at right tackle this training camp. Last year, Elijah Wilkinson had admirable performances but an injury forced a slew of others into the fold, including Colby Gossett and Matt Hennessy.
The former Temple center didn’t fill in terribly, but there was a clear drop-off from Wilkinson, which isn’t saying much. The Falcons traded up for a collegiate tackle to move him inside to guard for the second time. Only time will tell if this round nets better results.
Granted, Matthew Bergeron is a much different player than Mayfield. He’s bigger and more powerful than the Michigan product and doesn’t have to completely switch sides of the line of scrimmage, which is a more significant deal than most believe.
None of this is breaking news and is what was expected. If I had to wager, I’d bet Bergeron comes out of camp as the starter. The Falcons better hope he pans out because they invested a premium draft pick on the Syracuse product.
Photographer: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire