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Falcons Still Trying To Upgrade Offensive Line


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Falcons still trying to upgrade offensive line
Vaughn McClure, ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

The Atlanta Falcons continue to search for ways to enhance their offensive line.

As ESPN Insider Field Yates reported, the team had free-agent tackle Joe Barksdale in for a workout on Monday, although Barksdale did not immediately sign. The St. Louis Rams expressed an interest in bringing back Barksdale, last year's starting right tackle, but that might not happen.

The Falcons are also one of probably 32 teams waiting to see what happens with LSU undrafted rookie tackle La'el Collins, who met with police Monday about the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend but is not a suspect. Collins was expected to be drafted in the first round.

"I think when you look at any of the players that are up there that have talent, you consider [them]," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said when asked if he eyed drafting Collins. "I would prefer not to go into the specifics of our discussion. Suffice to say, there's no question that we always look and consider those players, and always try to determine whether they are right for our system or not. We obviously didn't bring [Collins] in here right now. I'll be interested to track that. I just think everyone in the league is going to be interested to track how that all plays out."

A change in philosophy has the Falcons looking for more athleticism along the line. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan desires offensive linemen capable of running in his outside-zone blocking scheme. Such change is the reason why the Falcons released veteran left guard Justin Blalock, a stout pass-protector not known for his ability to get out and run.

The Falcons have a handful of linemen still recovering from surgeries: starting left tackle Jake Matthews (Lisfranc), starting center Joe Hawley (ACL, MCL), offensive tackle Sam Baker (knee) and guard/center Peter Konz (ACL). With those injuries, the team went with a slimmed down Lamar Holmes at left tackle, newcomer Mike Person at left guard, James Stone at center, Jon Asamoah at right guard and Ryan Schraeder at right tackle during last week's voluntary minicamp.

Once everyone is healthy, it will be interesting to see how the battle at left guard pans out, with Stone possibly the lead candidate over Person since Hawley is expected back at center. Harland Gunn and Konz also might get looks at left guard.

Baker's status remains a mystery since Matthews is now the team's left tackle. And if Holmes' improved physique is any indication of how motivated he is this season, he could push Schraeder at right tackle, provided the Falcons don't sign Barksdale or Collins.

"We continue to believe that this offensive line has some really good football players, some upside that fit the scheme that we're going with," Dimitroff said. "We are encouraged by that, for sure. A lot of our guys are healing up very well and things are going to work out well that way."

The Falcons drafted Eastern Washington's Jake Rodgers in the seventh round to get a look at both tackle spots. Another player to keep an eye on is 6-foot-3, 305-pound undrafted center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke from New Mexico State. He'll be one of the players participating in the team's rookie minicamp starting Friday.

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I hope Collins comes to his senses and wants to play. Getting a player of that talent level as an UDFA would be a tremendous pick up for the Falcons organization.

He's got his pick of teams to sign with now that the police have finished questioning him & he's still not a suspect.

In addition to the Bills, LSU T/G La'El Collins is scheduled to meet with Dolphins brass.
Miami has a need on the interior line, where Collins would play if he landed there. He dined with Bills coach Rex Ryan on Monday night. Although Collins' UDFA signing bonus is capped at just under $100,000, he is definitely in demand. A source told the Baton Rouge Advocate that Collins has received interest from "almost every" team since the conclusion of the draft.
May 4 - 11:16 PM

Source: Baton Rouge Advocate

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He's got his pick of teams to sign now that the police have finished questioning him & he's still not a suspect.

In addition to the Bills, LSU T/G La'El Collins is scheduled to meet with Dolphins brass.

Miami has a need on the interior line, where Collins would play if he landed there. He dined with Bills coach Rex Ryan on Monday night. Although Collins' UDFA signing bonus is capped at just under $100,000, he is definitely in demand. A source told the Baton Rouge Advocate that Collins has received interest from "almost every" team since the conclusion of the draft.

May 4 - 11:16 PM

Source: Baton Rouge Advocate

We need to make a play for him at the very least. Try to wine and dine him a little bit. My fear is that he signs with the Saints.

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UDFA contacts are limited. It won't be a bidding war. It will simply be Collins deciding to play where he wants to play.

Yeah I see. Minimum deal, only think that can distinguish one team over the other is the signing bonus which has a cap on it, and in this case will most likely be maxed by every team. I would still only negotiate a short term deal though if I truly believed in my talent.

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Will be interesting to see how it shakes out. I can't imagine any team but the most shadiest organization winning his services. Look for the immediate family to suddenly be driving nice vehicles, living in nice houses, and be showered in all kinds of gifts from associates of friends of family of co-workers of the winning organization.

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What's interesting. Althought it was voluntary mini camp, we had none of our starters practicing except asamoah,and from the coaches saw so far,they where comfortable enough not to draft any olineman early in the draft.

Holmes needs to stay at LT.(just my honest opinion)

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Line him up some endorsements that reach the million dollar mark or more and see if he likes ATL !

Coke and Home depot would be a nice start ?

Yeah, that would actually work, wouldn't be illegal, and every other team has thought of it.

Love to see it though

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What's interesting. Althought it was voluntary mini camp, we had none of our starters practicing except asamoah,and from the coaches saw so far,they where comfortable enough not to draft any olineman early in the draft.

Holmes needs to stay at LT.(just my honest opinion)

LT: Matthews, Holmes

LG: Stone, Person

C: Hawley, Konz

RG: Asamoah, Gunn

RT: Schraeder, Rodgers

That's kind of how I see it playing out at the moment, barring the acquisition of Barksdale or another free agent.

That would allow us to cut Baker post-June 1st and go ahead and move on from him.

If we could get Barksdale, I'd like to see us try him at RG, and shift Asamoah over to LG.

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LT: Matthews, Holmes

LG: Stone, Person

C: Hawley, Konz

RG: Asamoah, Gunn

RT: Schraeder, Rodgers

That's kind of how I see it playing out at the moment, barring the acquisition of Barksdale or another free agent.

That would allow us to cut Baker post-June 1st and go ahead and move on from him.

If we could get Barksdale, I'd like to see us try him at RG, and shift Asamoah over to LG.

I think baker sticks for one last season before getting the axe. My line up projection is a tad different:

LT:Jake,Schrader

LG:Konz,Gunn

C: Hawley,stone

RG:Asamoah,Rodgers

RT:Holmes,Schrader

In my perfect world Holmes would be the LT while Jake the RT(but we know that'll never happen).

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Collins story has changed from his initial response. I've been following his story since release.

I wouldn't want him anywhere near a Falcons jersey, not because of his play, but because of the questions.

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Collins story has changed from his initial response. I've been following his story since release.

I wouldn't want him anywhere near a Falcons jersey, not because of his play, but because of the questions.

Oh?

I'm not following it except on here so I must have missed something.

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