The Atlanta Falcons open training camp on July 28 at the team's facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Here's our early 53-man roster projection:
Quarterbacks (2): Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub
Ryan said he has a better feel for the offense in Year 2, and Schaub's previous success in Kyle Shanahan's scheme could help Ryan develop an even stronger grasp.
Running backs (4): Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Terron Ward, Patrick DiMarco (fullback)
Although Freeman is coming off a Pro Bowl season, Coleman will push for plenty of touches with his home run ability.
Wide receivers (6): Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Justin Hardy, Aldrick Robinson, Eric Weems, Devin Fuller
Sanu's big, physical presence out of the slot should help alleviate pressure from Jones, while Robinson could give the Falcons another deep-ball threat.
Tight ends (3): Jacob Tamme, Austin Hooper, Levine Toilolo
The rookie Hooper could evolve into a serious red zone threat down the middle and has the ability to go up and get the ball in traffic.
Offensive linemen (9): Jake Matthews, Andy Levitre, Alex Mack, Chris Chester, Ryan Schraeder, Wes Schweitzer, Mike Person, Tom Compton, Bryce Harris
Competition at right guard should be intense with the rookie Schweitzer, the returning starter Chester, Person and Compton.
Defensive linemen (8): Tyson Jackson, Grady Jarrett, Jonathan Babineaux, Derrick Shelby, Adrian Clayborn, Ra'Shede Hageman, Courtney Upshaw, Brooks Reed (Leo)
Although Hageman is not the ideal fit for the scheme, the Falcons will try to get the best out of him in his move from three-technique defensive tackle to four-tech defensive end.
Linebackers (7): Vic Beasley Jr., Paul Worrilow, Deion Jones, De'Vondre Campbell, Philip Wheeler, Tyler Starr, LaRoy Reynolds.
The rookies Jones and Campbell are talented enough to assume starting roles, but look for Worrilow to stay ahead of Jones in the middle, at least in the base, with his knowledge of the defense.
Cornerbacks (6): Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Jalen Collins, C.J. Goodwin, Akeem King, DeMarcus Van Dyke
Collins' four-game suspension to start the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs means King, Van Dyke or Goodwin could start outside opposite Trufant.
Safeties (4): Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, Kemal Ishmael, Robenson Therezie
First-rounder Neal already showed the coaches he's ready for a major role.
Specialists (4): Matt Bryant (K), Matt Bosher (P), Josh Harris (LS), Devin Hester (KR/PR)
Of course, there is a big question mark with Hester coming off toe surgery and with a $3 million salary, but something tells me he has one year of thrilling returns left in him.
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