In advance of their first preseason games this week, the Atlanta Falcons released an “unofficial” depth chart Monday. Yes, the team deems these early looks as unofficial, but that doesn’t mean they are without merit. It only means that the Falcons do not want to set anything in stone just yet, and that’s as it should be before anyone straps on shoulder pads for real.
This early look, however, did raise a few eyebrows.
The Falcons face Baltimore Thursday night in the Georgia Dome and released their depth chart at their official website.
There aren’t a whole lot of shockers here.
As much as the fanbase may hate to see it, Sam Baker is listed as the starting left tackle. Will Svitek is listed at No. 2 with rookie Lamar Holmes at third string.
Baker hasn’t lived up to his billing as a first-round draft pick from the 2008 draft, but most of the criticism has come in his last two seasons, when injuries have played a huge role in his down moments.
Heading into the 2012 season, Baker is healthy and should show more of his potential than in years past.
But the real reason Baker is listed as the starting left tackle is because he’s the best option available to the Falcons at the moment. He might not be what the fanbase wants, but the coaching staff thinks he’ll bounce back now that’s he’s playing pain-free.
Mike Cox, who came in and played well when signed last year after the Falcons lost fullback Ovie Mughelli, is listed as the starting fullback, not rookie Bradie Ewing.
This was expected, too, even if many thought Ewing would get a shot early.
The chemistry between Michael Turner and his fullback is important, and right now Cox has that chemistry. And he has the skill set to hold off Ewing for some time.
Peria Jerry is listed as the starting defensive tackle opposite Jonathan Babineaux. This is solely because Corey Peters has been out with an injury. As soon as Peters is 100 percent, he’ll reclaim his spot with the first-string defense.
Harry Douglas is listed as the primary punt returner and Jacquizz Rodgers the team’s main kick returner.
The Douglas move was expected, as he’s been getting the most work in camp. Adding Rodgers as a kick return specialist is positive for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, Rodgers can do the job. He’s a capable option to return kicks. Second, it doesn’t force Douglas to do both.
Douglas is a main key to Atlanta’s offense, which likely will ramp up its passing game this season. Knowing that Douglas won’t tire himself with both return duties is a positive for the Falcons on offense.
Don’t put too much stock in the first depth chart of the season—it’s easily editable. However, outside of the injury to Peters, realize that if everyone who’s running with the first team now stays healthy and performs well, this “unofficial” list will become official.