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Five Things To Watch At Otas


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http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/5769/five-things-to-watch-at-otas

Five things to watch at OTAs

May, 26, 2014

MAY 26

8:00

AM ET

By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com


The Atlanta Falcons begin organized team activities this week, and the media will be allowed to watch Wednesday's session.

Here are five things to watch as the veterans and rookies get together:

1. Steven Jackson's passion: The veteran running back wrote a blog recently and reflected on last season and how he and the team needed to do better this year. He also tweeted about welcoming new competition. Well, Jackson could be pushed by fourth-round draft pickDevonta Freeman from Florida State, a guy the Falcons view as a three-down back. Jackson, who turns 31 in July, wasn't fully healthy last season. Being pushed by a youngster might make all those bumps and bruises from over the years go away quickly.

2. Lamar Holmes' improvement: Yes, Lamar Holmes. This is why: If Sam Baker's knee doesn't hold up following surgery, then the Falcons would have to move rookie first-round pick Jake Matthews over to left tackle and rely on Holmes on the right side. Holmes has been far from reliable so far, but the Falcons still have faith in him moving forward, provided he is in shape. Getting beat up last season was a good learning experience. Now Holmes has to stay in it, mentally, in case he's called upon.

3. Jonathan Massaquoi's pass rush: Since the Falcons didn't go after a true pass-rusher in free agency or the draft, the onus is on Massaquoi to take another step forward in terms of getting pressure on quarterbacks. He'll have to adjust to playing outside linebacker in the base 3-4 scheme. But no matter the defensive alignment, Massaquoi simply has to be relentless with his rush. Last year, he finished with four sacks which wasn't bad, considering he played 50.7 percent of the defensive snaps. Although it's just practice, Massaquoi still could show something during OTAs.

4. Devin Hester's role: Don't expect the Falcons to show their full offensive repertoire right now, but it will be interesting to see how many offensive plays the newcomer Hester gets during OTAs. Hester, arguably the greatest return man of all time, was signed to make an impact on special teams. However, he has the ability to create mismatches on offense as a jitter bug working out of the slot. Hester didn't play offense in Chicago last season in large part because he had a quarterback who berated him more often than not. That won't happen with Matt Ryan.

5. Roddy White's mindset: The veteran receiver is coping with a devastating tragedy as his younger brother was murdered in South Carolina. The funeral was just last week, and no one should tell anyone how long to grieve. Therapy for some people involves getting back to work, while others find it too hard to focus under such circumstances. Whatever the case, the Falcons should be delicate with White during this difficult time. Not seeing White on the field for the start of OTAs wouldn't be a surprise, although he surely wants to be around his teammates for support.

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Mass will blow up this year. Between him, Kroy, Osi and Shembo + our interior line collapsing the pocket i think we will surprise a lot of people.

I agree. You cannot have superstars at every position but there is no way you can convince me that the D-Line won't be better this year with what we have done this offseason. Mike Nolan is going to be sending guys to the QB from every position on the field. Don't be surprised if Alford has 3 sacks this year. It's just going to be that kind of defense from Nolan now that he has the chess pieces he needs to finally be in the game.

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Hester and Julio are the only players who can realistically catch a 10 yard pass and take it to the house.

If we get a consistent interior push, we won't need a lotta sacks from Mass, 7-8 would be awesome

Jackson can do a lot with some actual running lanes. Expect we'll run right more successfully thus year :)

Holmes should definitely improve, so should Konz. OL is a position where development is crucial and improvement virtually inevitable. Take Matthews, no matter how well he plays as a rook, he'll be even better his 3rd, 4th, 5th year. Holmes wasn't coached well in college, certainly not used to staying fit. I expect all that to change this year or he's got a future @ Foot Locker

What we need is continuity on our OL

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Max protect means only 2 or 3 receivers out, that's a good thing.

Lol acting like forcing an offense into max protect is a bad thing. It amazes me how many fans want players to fail on the team they root for.

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Guest Negatorris

Hester and Julio are the only players who can realistically catch a 10 yard pass and take it to the house.

Realistically, I'm sure Roddy could, Davis could, Johnson could, and even the inept HD could.

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Hester and Julio are the only players who can realistically catch a 10 yard pass and take it to the house.

If we get a consistent interior push, we won't need a lotta sacks from Mass, 7-8 would be awesome

Jackson can do a lot with some actual running lanes. Expect we'll run right more successfully thus year :)

Holmes should definitely improve, so should Konz. OL is a position where development is crucial and improvement virtually inevitable. Take Matthews, no matter how well he plays as a rook, he'll be even better his 3rd, 4th, 5th year. Holmes wasn't coached well in college, certainly not used to staying fit. I expect all that to change this year or he's got a future @ Foot Locker

What we need is continuity on our OL

Roddy could too. He can still out run ppl. He just doesn't have moves to get around crowded spaces like Julio and Devin. We have enough speed throughout the whole offense to out run ppl. It's just getting them in space to do it. That's where I wish Matt would lead playmakers more with some of his throws so they can just run.

Edited by TheFatboi
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Jonathon Massaquoi is not the answer. I'm not sure why everyone has this pipe dream of him becoming a reliable pass rusher. He hasn't really shown anything substantial to be given so much praise. I'm not buying it. Wish the guy well, but I just dont see everybody's infatuation with him at this point.

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Jonathon Massaquoi is not the answer. I'm not sure why everyone has this pipe dream of him becoming a reliable pass rusher. He hasn't really shown anything substantial to be given so much praise. I'm not buying it. Wish the guy well, but I just dont see everybody's infatuation with him at this point.

Of course when you only look at his stats, you wouldn't be "impressed". But given he played only 50% of the snaps and got 4 sacks, that averages to between 7-9 sacks if he played closer to 100% of the snaps.

Nobody is claiming he will be a 15-20 sack guy, but with the additions of Hageman, Soliai and Jackson and more effective 3-4 looks, it is possible Mass breaks 10 sacks.

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I'm excited to see Massaquoi this year, really think he can be a 10 sack guy, also wanna see how Hageman and Southward do, going to be a great off season to see how Nolan uses his new pieces. I'll say this tho, our run defense should be improved big time, so much girth on the DL.

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