Position battles await in mini-camp

Three weeks of OTA’s close, and the intensity cranks up with mini-camp next up on the calendar. Position battles within the offensive line and secondary created the more intriguing storylines during OTA’s. The offensive line is in an open competition for the right guard and right tackle position and Philipkeith Manley, Garrett Reynolds and Lamar Holmes are the leading candidates. Todd McClure’s retirement forced Peter Konz from right guard to center this year and the transition has gone smoothly. “I think Peter’s done a great job,” said Matt Ryan. “We got to work together a lot last year, maybe not so much in terms of game time, but on the practice field a lot.”

Defensively, rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are in a competition with Dominique Franks and Robert McClain for the second and third cornerback jobs.

“He’s an athletic kid, that’s for sure,” said Ryan about Trufant. “He moves pretty well, that’s probably the first thing I’m noticing.”


The brand-new playbook and terminology has been a lot for Steven Jackson to digest in such a short period of time, but his focus and veteran experience has helped him adapt quickly.

“This offense has been together for a long time so they are probably moving a lot faster than other teams are moving at this time of year,” explained Jackson. “That just talks to the chemistry and what Thomas (Dimitroff) has done here building this team along with (Mike Smith). I just have to catch up, but it’s really helping me to stay on top of my playbook.” With plenty of offensive weapons, Jack- son has shown to be versatile and flawlessly complement the system.

“The thing I like about Steven is that Steven is not just a running back, he’s a receiving back as well, so he gives us a lot of flexibility in our personnel groupings. Whether or not we are putting out a run or a pass grouping, they [defenses] won’t be able to tell,” said Smith.

Smith and the staff will spend the rest of the offseason feeding the playbook to Jackson. Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter are careful about not wearing down the running backs in the preseason, so it may be until week 1 at New Orleans when Jackson is finally unleashed.


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