Veteran roster gives newbies preseason spotlight.

Training camp begins next week, and will be the last chance for guys to win position battles, and in some cases make the final roster. One of the players that will be approaching training camp with an all-business mentality is linebacker Brian Banks. Thought once to be a long-shot roster slot, Banks will have training camp and the preseason to earn a spot on the final roster.

In the secondary, the unit appears deep. Robert McClain, Dominique Franks, and rookies Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are all still battling for the jobs opposite of Asante Samuel. Trufant has the NFL family lineage and raw speed and athleticism to likely name him the starter, but Alford and Franks have looked capable.

“Just coming from Southeastern to the NFL, there’s a lot that I need to learn,” said Alford. “Going against Julio and [Roddy] everyday is getting me better. Both of them are Pro bowl caliber receivers. I’m going against the best and that’s the only thing I can do to help me get bet better as a player. “

Training camp will feature full pads and the competition is expected to crank up.

“Friday Night Light’s will be the first time we do live-tackling in game speed,” said Mike Smith.

Second year defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, used his rookie season to gain the trust of his coaches, and is ready to contend for a major role in this year’s defense. Massaquoi did not miss an OTA this offseason, and during that time and mini-camp was putting in the extra work. One-on-one instruction from the defensive coaches for up to an hour followed the majority of the sessions. With Osi Umenyiora looking to rejuvenate his All-Pro career as the Falcons primary rusher, there could be two former Troy pass rushers anchoring the defensive front.

The offensive line competition is settling down, with Peter Konz taking over the center position, and the rest of the starting offense seems to be set in stone. Mike Smith will not run Steven Jackson a lot in the preseason, so as expected, the backup quarterbacks and receivers will get a chance to prove themselves.

Back-up receiver Drew Davis has been sent to the practice squad in each of his two NFL seasons, but came up big after he was promoted to the 53-man roster before the Week 1 win against the Chiefs last season. After seeing action along the way, Davis scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. This will be an opportunity for the former Oregon Duck to continue working his way into the offense, and other back-ups to prove their worth to the franchise. Davis and Kevin Cone (pictured above) will be fighting for the fourth receiver slot this preseason.





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