Each day leading up to the start of training camp, we’ll look at a major issue that faces the Falcons and head coach Dan Quinn as he’s set to enter his third season with the team.
FLOWERY BRANCH -- The battle royale of training camp will be between Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland for the starting right guard position.
The Falcons, the defending NFC champions, report for training camp on Wednesday, July 26.
The Falcons need a replacement for Chris Chester, who elected to retire over the offseason.
Over all 19 games last season, the Falcons started the same offensive line.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn has declared Schweitzer and Garland as the top contenders. The Falcons drafted Sean Harlow in the fourth round and are converted the former Oregon State tackle to guard.
Last season, Chester won a battle over Schweitzer, who was selected in the seventh-round of the 2016 draft. Garland played on offense and defense last season.
The competition is considered a toss-up heading into camp.
Schweitzer tried to make the switch from college left tackle to guard last season.
“We are excited about where Wes is headed," Quinn said over the offseason.
The Falcons started three rookies last season on defense and have not been afraid to get their young talent on the field. Harlow, who’s father, Pat, was the 11th pick in the 1991 draft, by New England, will get a good look, too.
Offensive line coach Chris Morgan liked how the linemen worked over the offseason. However, there isn't much to evaluate until the linemen put on the pads and do some live blocking in training camp and in the exhibition games.
The Falcons are not scrimmaging against another NFL team like former coach Mike Smith did regularly.
“The guys all came back with an unbelievable mindset,” Morgan said. “They were really going after it. Everybody is focused. The competition is really cool.”
Second-team All-Pro center Alex Mack believes the line must work on its continuity once the new right guard is named.
“It’s not common (to have the same starters all season),” Mack said. “Having consistency in the (offensive) line helps you be successful week in and week out.”
The Falcons were ranked as Pro Football Focus’s sixth-ranked overall offensive line last season as Mack graded out the team’s best run blocker and overall offensive lineman.
COUNTDOWN TO TRAINING CAMP
Countdown to Camp: Day 5 -- Neal looking to make big leap
Countdown to Camp: Day 4 -- Deion Jones to follow up All-Rookie season
Countdown to Camp: Day 3 -- What will MVP Matt Ryan do for an encore?
Countdown to Camp: Day 2 -- What makes Julio Jones so great?
Countdown to Camp: Day 1 -- Did the Falcons protect the Brotherhood?
Here’s the training camp schedule:
Wednesday, July 26th — Team Reports for Camp
Thursday, July 27th — Practice: 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, July 28th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Saturday, July 29th — Practice 9:30 a.m. - Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 30th — Practice 9:30 a.m. - Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Monday, July 31st — Players Off
Tuesday, August 1st — Practice 9:30 a.m. - Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 2nd — Practice 9:30 a.m. - Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Thursday, August 3rd —Practice 9:30 a.m. - Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, August 4th — Practice 5:05 p.m. – Gates open to the public at 4:05 p.m.
Saturday, August 5th —Players Off
Sunday, August 6th — Practice 9:45 a.m. – Gates open to the public at 8:15 a.m.
Monday, August 7th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, August 8th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 9th — Walkthrough
Thursday, August 10th — at Miami Dolphins – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, August 11th — Walkthrough
Saturday, August 12th — Players Off
Sunday, August 13th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Monday, August 14th —Practice 9:30 a.m.
2017 ATLANTA FALCONS 90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS
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