The Atlanta Falcons will have to ween their roster down to just 53 men by the time September 9, 2012 rolls around. They also have to make sure they have the right guys in the right spots on the depth chart. Here is the Falcons' final 53-man roster with their roles on the team:
Starting Quarterback: Matt Ryan
Backup Quarterback: Chris Redman
Featured Running Back: Michael Turner
Change of Pace Running Back: Jacquizz Rodgers
Running Back/Fullback: Jason Snelling
Starting Fullback: Bradie Ewing
Ryan and Redman are the established veterans of the group and should resume their rightful roles as starting quarterback and primary backup. Turner will continue to be the featured running back and should see around 225 to 250 carries in 2012.
Rodgers should have more of a role in 2012 with the implementation of a screen game into the offense. Snelling will continue his role as a pounding running back and fullback in certain situations. Ewing is a rookie, but his role will likely be very similar to what Ovie Mughelli's was last season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Starting Wide Receivers: Julio Jones and Roddy White
Slot Wide Receiver: Harry Douglas
Reserve Wide Receivers: Kerry Meier, James Rodgers and Kevin Cone
Starting Tight End: Tony Gonzalez
Blocking Tight End: Michael Palmer
Receiving Tight End/H-Back: LaMark Brown
Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White all return to their regular roles. Harry Douglas is also back for the slot spot. After them, that's where the fun begins. Kerry Meier should finally turn into the Brian Finneran clone that the Falcons wanted when they drafted him.
James Rodgers and Kevin Cone could both impress to the point where the Falcons decide to keep both. Rodgers can also play some running back, so don't be shocked if he does. Palmer returns as a blocking tight end, but he can also catch. LaMark Brown is a bit of a long shot but makes sense as a more athletic H-back type than any of the other rookie tight ends.
Starting Left Tackle: Will Svitek
Starting Left Guard: Justin Blalock
Starting Center: Joe Hawley
Starting Right Guard: Peter Konz
Starting Right Tackle: Tyson Clabo
Swing Tackle: Lamar Holmes
Guard/Tackle: Andrew Jackson
Swing Guard: Mike Johnson
Backup Center: Todd McClure
This looks a bit different than what most are projecting for the starting lineup, but it's what makes the most sense. Svitek, Blalock, Hawley, Konz and Clabo should start in that order from left to right. Lamar Holmes should spend the first part of his rookie season as the swing tackle and sixth lineman for plays that call for six offensive linemen.
Andrew Jackson is a versatile guard and tackle and should be a backup for both spots but will be inactive on gamedays. Mike Johnson can play both guard spots and right tackle as well. Todd McClure should finally lose his starting spot but will provide veteran leadership and a mentor to Hawley on the bench.
Starting Right End: John Abraham
Starting Nose Tackle: Corey Peters
Starting Under Tackle: Jonathan Babineaux
Starting Left End: Ray Edwards
Rotational Ends: Lawrence Sidbury, Kroy Biermann, Jonathan Massaquoi, Cliff Matthews
Rotational Tackles: Peria Jerry, Travian Robertson
Abraham and Edwards will be the top defensive ends, while Peters and Babineaux will be the top tackles. Sidbury and Biermann should see quite a bit of playing time in the new scheme as should Peria Jerry as the main defensive rotational players.
Jonathan Massaquoi is a prime candidate to be active on game days over a linebacker with his versatility. Robertson and Matthews are excellent fits as glorified practice squad types at the end of the roster.
Starting Weak-side Linebacker: Sean Weatherspoon
Starting Middle Linebacker: Akeem Dent
Starting Strong-side Linebacker: Stephen Nicholas
Reserves: Lofa Tatupu, Spencer Adkins, Pat Schiller
Weatherspoon and Nicholas are cemented into their starting spots for the Falcons. Dent is behind Tatupu right now on the depth chart but should be able to win the starting job in training camp. Tatupu and Adkins are likely game-day players on the active roster, while Schiller is in the same status as a glorified practice squad player like Robertson or Matthews.
Starting Left Cornerback: Brent Grimes
Starting Right Cornerback: Asante Samuel
Nickel Cornerback: Dunta Robinson
Reserves: Dominique Franks, Chris Owens, Darrin Walls
Starting Free Safety: Thomas Decoud
Starting Strong Safety: William Moore
Reserves: Chris Hope, Charles Mitchell
Brent Grimes has earned the right to keep his job at starting left corner with his pro bowl caliber play the last two years. Samuel will come in and take over at right corner right away as Robinson slides down to the nickel. Franks, Owens and Walls should still be able to contribute as reserve corners with Franks have the edge when they are put into the games.
At Safety, Decoud and Moore are two of the best young starters in the NFL and have the ability to both go to the pro bowl under Nolan's new scheme. Hope is a wily veteran who will bring experience and aptitude to the third safety role. Mitchell is a good reserve but could be primary special teamer his rookie year.
Kicker: Matt Bryant
Punter: Matt Bosher
Kickoff Specialist: Matt Bosher
Kick Returner: Dominique Franks
Punt Returner: Harry Douglas
Long Snapper: Joe Zelenka
Bryant, Bosher and Zelenka will resume their roles from the 2011 season as part of one of the more unheralded special teams units in the NFL. At returner, there is a huge battle that will be going on in camp. In the end, Douglas and Franks should be the ones who wind up on top of the jobs as the new return men for the Falcons.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek and also runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and the host of Kvetching Draftniks Radio.