Falcons: 5 players to watch in training camp

BY foxsports • July 24, 2013

With training camp fast approaching, Falcons writer John Manasso breaks down the five Falcons players to watch closely. To read his five position battles to watch in Falcons camp, click here.

When the Falcons signed him, it was one of the feel-good stories of the offseason. Banks spent time in jail for a crime of which he was falsely accused and later exonerated. That deprived him of an opportunity to play at USC, with which he had signed. Nonetheless, he conducts himself with the utmost class and dignity. He will have the fans behind him. 

The Falcons only kept five linebackers last season on the active roster and making the jump from high school to the NFL with several years off is a daunting task. He could end up earning a spot on the practice squad. 

The Falcons drafted him last year in the fifth-round to replace former Pro-Bowler Ovie Mughelli but he blew out his knee in training camp. With the way they run their offense and with Jason Snelling able to perform a combo role, the Falcons don’t necessarily need a true fullback on their roster. Not all teams carry one. Plus, he’s smaller than the running back he’ll be blocking for in Steven Jackson. Could he be a casualty of the roster crunch? 

Made the practice squad last season as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois. With injuries to starters Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon during OTAs, he got lots of reps. Mike Peterson won’t be back, opening up a potential spot on the active roster. Schiller is smart and could have shot to make the team, working his way up through special teams, as the Falcons often choose to do with young players. 

A seventh-round pick, he agreed to terms Wednesday morning. He has good size at 6-foot-5, brains (he went to Duke) and trained under one of the top quarterback gurus in David Cutcliffe, who tutored both Eli and Peyton Manning and remains a mentor to the latter two. 

However, the Falcons have never been so inexperienced at their reserve quarterback positions since drafting Ryan in ’08. Dominique Davis, who made the team as an undrafted free agent last season out of East Carolina, and Renfree could battle for the No. 2 job. Will the Falcons elect to be so inexperienced at that spot? With their salary cap crunch, they might not have a choice. 

The team’s first-round pick in 2009 has been displaced in the starting lineup by Corey Peters since 2010. Jerry has started only 13 games over the last three seasons. It’s hard to know how much a season-ending knee injury during his rookie season might have derailed his career. However, if the Falcons are able to scrap together enough cap room and to sign veteran free agent Richard Seymour, he could be on the chopping block.

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