Hope joins Atlanta secondary

Jay Adams/Atlantafalcons.com

The Atlanta Falcons made a move to ease potential concerns from defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in regard to the depth at both safety positions. Nolan wanted a veteran that could backup Thomas DeCoud and William Moore just in case something happened to one of them.

Friday the team agreed to terms with free agent safety Chris Hope. Hope, 31, has played in 147 games with 109 career starts. He was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002 and played in the Steel City for four seasons before heading to the Tennessee Titans.

During his 10-year career, Hope has tallied 20 career interceptions to go with 748 total tackles and four sacks. He was a member of the 2005 Steelers team that won a Super Bowl. In Tennessee, he made the Pro Bowl in 2008. During that season, Hope started in all 16 games and racked up 63 total tackles, one sack and four interceptions.

Hope’s signing is a solid one as it delivers depth to a position that didn’t offer much of it. Hope has the ability to play both safety spots as he has experience at both positions. He began his career as a free safety with the Steelers and moved to strong safety when he joined the Titans.

Entering training camp, Moore and DeCoud are penciled in as the starting safeties with Shan Schillinger and 2012 draft pick Charles Mitchell slotted to back them up. Hope will battle for one of the reserve spots, meaning either Schillinger or Mitchell will be competing to stay on the roster. Schillinger has done well for the Falcons the last two seasons, especially on special teams. But the Falcons may want to check out the recent draft investment in Mitchell, which could make Schillinger slightly more expendable.

With the addition of Hope along with cornerback Asante Samuel, the Falcons are doing whatever it takes to improve the secondary. The Falcons were ranked 20th in pass defense in 2011, surrendering 237 yards per game.

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