Atlanta Falcons: 3 Veterans the Birds Should Bring in for Training Camp

Justin BlanchardContributor IIJuly 8, 2012

Atlanta Falcons: 3 Veterans the Birds Should Bring in for Training Camp

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    After staying relatively quiet the past few weeks, the Atlanta Falcons added 10-year veteran safety Chris Hope to the team in late June to provide depth and leadership for Atlanta's younger starting tandem.

    But they shouldn't stop there.

    While many veterans left on the open market may be nearing the end of their careers, some like Hope still have enough in the tank to provide solid depth and, in some cases, fight for a starting job.

    With training camp just a few weeks away, now is the time to make final tweaks to the roster.

    Here are a few NFL veteran free agents the Falcons should consider adding to their roster just in time for training camp.

Channing Crowder

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    The Atlanta Falcons originally showed interest in Channing Crowder back in February, but decided against giving him a call. 

    It may be time to dial his number.  

    In the past few months, starting middle linebacker Curtis Lofton left via free agency, and rookie roster hopeful Matt Hansen could be out for the season with a knee injury.

    That leaves Atlanta in need of depth at an already thin position, and there might not be a better fit than Crowder.

    The former Dolphin is versatile enough to step into any of the three linebacker positions in the 4-3 and is familiar with new Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan after playing in his system while with Miami in 2010.

    He may be turning 29 this year, but Crowder's versatility added to his familiarity with Nolan are enough to make his acquisition a no-brainer for the Falcons.

Tommie Harris

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    A foot injury that starting defensive tackle Corey Peters suffered in early June has given reserve Peria Jerry a golden opportunity to prove to coaches he isn't a bust.

    Chances are he hasn't, and that leaves Atlanta with just Vance Walker—who has started all of two games in his three-year career—and 2012 seventh-round pick Travian Robertson behind him on the depth chart.

    But while Jerry would be the best backup available on the roster now, that would change in an instant with the addition of Tommie Harris.

    A three-time Pro Bowler with the Bears, Harris played a supporting role with the Chargers last year after Chicago released him following the 2010 season. He managed three sacks despite starting in just one of his 13 appearances in 2011, proving that, while he may be past his prime, his skills are still a lot better than what Jerry has to offer.

Max Starks

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    In one of the most controversial situations surrounding the Falcons this offseason, Atlanta decided to give the Sam Baker experiment a second attempt by not chasing after any big names in free agency.

    Unless Baker showed significant improvement in OTAs and minicamp, the Falcons should be in the process of finding a better short-term replacement while they give 2012 third-round pick Lamar Holmes time to develop.

    Leading the list should be Max Starks.

    Formerly of the Steelers, Starks has experience at both right and left tackle, having started at both positions over the course of his eight-year career. He tore his ACL in Pittsburgh's playoff loss to the Broncos last January, but reportedly should be ready to go by the start of training camp.

    If fully healed, there's no question he'd be one of the best left tackles left on the market at this point, not to mention a better option than anyone the Falcons currently have on hand at the position.  

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