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Mcclain Article On Playing Safety

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Robert McClain fine being safety net By Vaughn McClure | August 4, 2014 8:45:08 AM PDT

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Near the end of Sunday's practice,Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert McClain stepped in for a few reps at free safety. 

Now, McClain doesn't expect to suddenly be thrust into a role with the first group. But he is more than willing to provide depth at the position, if called upon. 

"With our packages, everybody knows everybody's position,'" McClain said. "I've done safety-type work. But that's the first time I've been in there actually doing the base safety stuff and learning some of the blitzes that they do. So, I'm really learning the entire defense now. Even though I've already studied the entire defense and tried to learn different intricacies of the defense, I'm really having to fine-tune myself at the safety right now.'' 

The reason is obvious. The Falcons lack depth at safety right now with projected starting free safety Dwight Lowery's status in doubt following his third NFL concussion and second-year player Zeke Motta unlikely to play this season coming off neck surgery. Not to mention rookie Dez Southward suffered a left knee injury, although Southward was back to practice on Sunday in a very limited role. So the coaches decided to cross train both McClain and rookie cornerback Ricardo Allen at safety. 

McClain continues to compete for the nickelback role along with Josh Wilson and Javier Arenas. Wilson seems to have gotten the longest look at the position so far, although McClain has held his own. Arenas had a rough day with a couple of penalties on Sunday. All three are expected to get opportunities to be the primary nickel during four exhibition games. 

However the battle unfolds, McClain's versatility with picking up safety and his ability to be a special-teams standout should only help his standing. 

"I've always known what the [safeties] had to do with their jobs, which helps me play fast on the field,'' McClain said. "I'm not the super-fastest guy, so I've got to be one of the smartest. And knowing my assignment every play helps. Knowing the safety assignments already have helped me adjust at safety. 

"You have to be a student of the game no matter what position you're playing. Left corner, right corner, nickel, you have to be able to play all three. If you're playing free safety or strong safety, you have to able to play both safety spots. To be a student of the game and to really perfect your craft, knowing what the other 10 guys are doing helps you a lot.'' 

Maybe the development of Kemal Ishmael next to William Moore and the growth of Southward will keep the Falcons from digging too deep at safety. But if not, McClain will be ready. 

"Just like Coach [Mike] Smith said: Your role can change any time,'' McClain said. "I've always been a player who accepts my role, accepts my job and does it 100 percent. I just want to win. I want the team to be happy. I want the morale, the fans, and everybody to be happy because we're winning. Whatever it does for the team, that's what we're all going to do.''


Didn't see it posted....apologies if it was

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I didn't know Lowery had a concussion. How long is he out?

Smith/team has said they remain hopeful he will be able to suit up soon, which could mean anything from next week to the first few games of the real season.

There is also some speculation amongst fans and reporters that he could hang it up, this being his 3rd concussion in the nfl and all.

Personally I think he will be out there game 1, he was seen "intensely" watching the scrimmage today, I get the feeling he will be back out there.

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I like what McClain had to say about being a student of the game. He seems to have most of the physical tools to play the position. Hope he backs up what he says, because his football IQ (at that position) will be one of his biggest hurdles.

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Scott case was a converted corner and deion was a converted safety. Probably should have moved decoudnt to corner when it was obvious he couldnt play the middle.

I've yet to see anything about Deion ever being a safety. Deion was an All American cornerback in 1987 and 88. He was drafted by the Falcons in 89, and never was he mentioned to be a converted safety. The Falcons drafted him to play corner and return kicks. I remember the day he was drafted as a corner.
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