After sticking with Lamar Holmes at right offensive tackle through some rough play in exhibition games, the Falcons on Tuesday signed veteran free agent Jeremy Trueblood.
Trueblood, 30, started 84 of 101 games at right tackle for Tampa Bay from 2006-12, making him much more experienced than any of the Falcons’ options to play the position. The Redskins released him last week.
After Mike Johnson suffered a season-ending leg injury early in camp, the Falcons replaced him in the lineup with Holmes, who played only seven offensive snaps as a rookie in 2012. Holmes struggled during four exhibition games, especially with his pass blocking.
Trueblood will have three practices and a walk-through before the Falcons play New Orleans in the season opener Sunday. Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said Holmes will start against the Saints.
“For a line player, it’s similar enough that they will get up to speed (quickly),” Koetter said. “But for right now, let’s make clear: Lamar Holmes is our right tackle. We’re doing everything we can to go full speed ahead with Lamar as our right tackle. That’s how it will be on Sunday.”
The Falcons drafted Holmes in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Southern Mississippi. He played sparingly last season after he was slowed by injury.
The team’s other option to play right tackle is Ryan Schraeder, an undrafted free agent from NCAA Division II Valdosta State. The Falcons released rookie tackle Terren Jones to clear a roster spot for Trueblood.
The Buccaneers placed Trueblood on injured reserve in November 2012 after he suffered a shoulder injury during a game against the Falcons. He had been demoted to a reserve role in 2012 after once starting 68 consecutive games for Tampa Bay.
Trueblood doesn’t have much time to learn plays before Sunday, but there’s a precedent: in 2008 the Falcons signed tight end Justin Peelle in the week before the opener, and he played against Detroit.
“I’m not going to say (anything) is impossible in terms of getting a guy ready,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
If Jones clears waivers, the Falcons could sign him to the practice squad to replace guard Phillipkeith Manley. The Falcons reached an injury settlement with Manley after he hurt his left ankle during practice Monday.