Pre-Camp Review: Atlanta Falcons

by Matt Soltysiak

The Falcons shocked even themselves last year by going 11-5 and taking second place in the NFC South.  With a rookie quarterback and a free agent running back the Falcons flew high enough to make the entire city forget about Michael Vick.  The majority of the roster remains intact for 2009, though Atlanta did lose defensive back Dominique Foxworth and defensive tackle Grady Jackson in the offseason.  The Falcons also cut ties with Michael Vick, which means it’s Matt Ryan’s team for the foreseeable future.  Of course the one big addition is to the squad is Hall of Fame bound tight end Tony Gonzalez.

In the NFL draft Atlanta targeted defensive players in the first three rounds by taking a defensive tackle, safety and cornerback.  With the development of Roddy White and the addition of Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons appear set on the offensive side of the ball.

What to watch for in training camp

Tony Gonzalez is a sure fire Hall of Fame tight end and entering his 13th season he shows no signs of slowing down.  Still, you have to look at how he fits in with the new team and how he’ll be utilized.  Will he be required to block more?  Will he still get the looks in the red zone?  His rapport with quarterback Matt Ryan is something to keep an eye on.

Wide receiver Roddy White finally put up good numbers in back to back seasons, making him a viable fantasy option.  That makes Michael Jenkins the guy to keep your eye on.  A former first round pick, he hasn’t lived up to expectations his first five years in the league (although last year his 777 yards was a career best).  If he is able to take the next step, he could be worth a late pick.

Michael Turner was a beast last year and should be one again this year.  His numbers could dip a bit with Tony Gonzalez’s arrival, but Turner will once again carry the load.

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Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Bills
Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Houston Texans
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Jacksonville Jaguars
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Miami Dolphins
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New York Giants
New York Jets
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Washington Redskins

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