Posted: 6:00 am Friday, July 18th, 2014

Countdown to camp: Day 8 – Defensive backs 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

ROOKIES IN CAMP--May 16, 2014 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons rookie safely Dezmen Southward #41 (center) smiles as he warms up during the first day of Mini-Camp for rookies on Friday, May 16, 2014. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

ROOKIES IN CAMP–May 16, 2014 Flowery Branch – Atlanta Falcons rookie safely Dezmen Southward #41 (center) smiles as he warms up during the first day of Mini-Camp for rookies on Friday, May 16, 2014. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — The start of the Falcons training camp is eight days away.

We started our countdown by looking at the new assistant coaches Mike Tice, Wade Harman and Bryan Cox and then the special teams unit.

Today, we will look at the defensive backfield, where they’ll be some fierce competition for the starting nickel back and free safety positions.

Here’s our projected depth chart for the defensive backfield.

RCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 28 Javier Arenas, 37 Ricardo Allen,

NB 26 Josh Wilson, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas, 41 Dezmen Southward

LCB 23 Robert Alford, 24 Jordan Mabin, 43 Devonta Glover-Wright

SS 25 William Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Kimario McFadden, 22 Zeke Motta

FS 20 Dwight Lowery, 41 Dezmen Southward, 29 Sean Baker

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald believes that second-year player Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford will be a solid starting duo at cornerback.

“Both guys had really strong seasons last year,” Fitzgerald said. “They are going to continue to get better.”

Trufant and Alford should improve from practice.

“They are playing against Roddy and Julio every day in practice and they are getting great, great looks going against Matt Ryan every day,” Fitzgerald said. “You are not going to get better competition. Those guys (will be ready) when it’s time to play.”

Wilson comes over from the Redskins. He’s set to enter his eighth season in the league and is projected to win the nickel back spot. He has played 102 games, with 81 starts. Last season, Wilson started all 16 games and posted a career-high 93 tackles.

Lowery is projected to win the starting free safety position, while rookie Dezmen Southward is groomed to be the longtime starter.

“The biggest thing is we need a safety to start and that’s what he’s competing for,” defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. “Hopefully, he’s that guy. If not him, then one of the other guys will have to do it.”

None of the other free safeties on the roster have played significant NFL snaps.

Lowery has started 41 of 68 games over six pro seasons and has earned a reputation as a solid cover man. Plus, Lowery has played in a defense similar to Nolan’s.

Also notable is Lowery’s history of solid tackling: Pro Football Focus credits him with 21 missed tackles in 212 career attempts with 40 “stops,” which it defines as tackles resulting in offensive failures. Tackling was a major issue for Thomas DeCoud, who according to Pro Football Focus had 12 misses in 62 attempts with 13 stops in 2013. He was released and has signed with Carolina.

Allen is a rookie to keep an eye on. He was drafted to be a nickel back and was a ball-hawk for the Boilermakers. He had 13 interceptions and 22 pass breakups over his career. In 2013, he had eight interceptions.

Over his career, Allen set a school-record with four career interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Motta suffered a neck injury last season and his status for the season is unknown.

Also, Glover-Wright, an undrafted cornerback from Campbell High and Utah State, has the size and speed the Falcons covet.

PROJECTED 2014 TRAINING CAMP DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

WR11 Julio Jones, 13 Darius Johnson, 14 Courtney Roby, 18 Freddie Martino, 89 Bernard Reedy,

LT 72 Sam Baker, 76 Lamar Holmes, 74 Terren Jones

LG 63 Justin Blalock, 68 Gabe Carimi, 67 Adam Replogle

C 61 Joe Hawley, 66 Peter Konz, 62 James Stone

RG 75 Jon Asamoah, 69 Harland Gunn

RT 70 Jake Matthews, 79 Mike Johnson 73 Ryan Schrader

TE 80 Levine Toilolo, 86 Bear Pascoe, 82 Mickey Shuler, 81 Jacob Pedersen, 49 Brian Wozniak

WR 84 Roddy White, 83 Harry Douglas, 15 Geraldo Boldewijn, 16 Julian Jones, 87 Tramaine Thompson

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 T.J. Yates, 12 Sean Renfree, 9 Jeff Mathews

RB 39 Steven Jackson, 32 Jacquizz Rodgers, 35 Antone Smith, 33 Devonta Freeman, 30 Josh Vaughan, 34 Jerome Smith

FB  42 Patrick DiMarco, 45 Maurice Hagens, 43 Roosevelt Nix

4-3 DEFENSE (with an extra line for the nickel back)

RE 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 50 Osi Umenyiora, 96 Jonathan Massaquoi, 90 Stansly Maponga

DT 99 Tyson Jackson, 91 Corey Peters, 92 Travian Robertson

DT 96 Paul Soliai, 97 Peria Jerry, 98 Cliff Matthews, 65 Donte Rumph

LE 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 98 Malliciah Goodman, 49 Tyler Starr, 64 Nosa Equae

OLB 71 Kroy Biermann, 48 Brenden Daley, 45 Jacques Smith

MLB 55 Paul Worrilow, 52 Tim Dobbins, 54 Yawin Smallwood

OLB 59 Joplo Bartu, 53 Prince Shembo, 51 Marquis Spruill, 46 Walker May,

RCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 28 Javier Arenas, 37 Ricardo Allen,

NB 26 Josh Wilson, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas, 41 Dezmen Southward

LCB 23 Robert Alford, 24 Jordan Mabin, 43 Devonta Glover-Wright

SS 25 William Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Kimario McFadden, 22 Zeke Motta

FS 20 Dwight Lowery, 41 Dezmen Southward, 29 Sean Baker

SPECIALISTS

K 3 Matt Bryant, 6 Sergio Castillo

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 17 Devin Hester, 28 Javier Arenas, 14 Courtney Roby

PR  17 Devin Hester, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas

LS  47 Josh Harris

 H 5 Matt Bosher

TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

Date                                                      Practice Times (public availability)

Tuesday, July 22                                Rookies report

Thursday, July 24                          Veterans report

Friday, July 25                                    Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, July 26                              Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, July 27                                 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, July 28                               Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Tuesday, July 29                               Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Wednesday, July 30                        Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Thursday, July 31                              Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Friday, August 1                              “Friday Night Lights” at Archer High School (Lawrenceville)

                                                            6:45 – 9:10 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, August 2                          Practice 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, August 3                             Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, August 4                           Combined Practice w/Tennessee  3-5:30 p.m.                                                (open to the public)

Tuesday, August 5                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Wednesday, August 6                    Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Thursday, August 7                         Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)

Friday, August 8                                Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins

                                                                Georgia Dome

                                                                7:00 p.m. ET – CW69

 Saturday, August 9                          Practice 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. (open to the public)

 Sunday, August 10                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

 Monday, August 11                         Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

 Tuesday, August 12                         Practice 10:00 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (open to the public)

 Wednesday, August 13                 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)

Thursday, August 14                       Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)

Friday, August 15                             Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)

Saturday, August 16                        Falcons at Houston Texans

                                                                NRG Stadium

                                                                8:00 p.m. ET – CW69

 Sunday, August 17                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Monday, August 18                         Practice 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (closed to the public)

                                                                Break Camp

MANDATORY MINICAMP REVIEW

Q&A with Falcons QB T.J. Yates

Falcons to practice with Titans, Texans in training camp

Falcons coach Mike Smith will try to rebound from first losing season on Hard Knocks 

Sam Baker is back to help line re-establish its identity

Falcons WR Roddy White: ‘Hard for me to deal with’ death of a brother

How much the Falcons rookies will be paid

Rookies getting advice on NFL life

Open competition in training camp will be good for Undrafted Rookies

 THE LATEST FROM OTAS

Sean Weatherspoon suffers season-ending Achilles injury

What’s next for Sean Weaatherspoon?

What’s next for the Falcons at linebacker?

Javier Arenas gets to watch longtime role model

Falcons cut Szczerba, Yoklic

Falcons minicamp is open to the public

VIDEO CORNER

Sean Weatherspoon to miss 2014 season

Matt Ryan on Harry Douglas’ contribution to the offense

Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox

Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo

Falcons assistant head coach Terry Robiskie on Devin Hester

Falcons coach Mike Smith on OTAs

13 comments
dkendr
dkendr

The only "competition" in the Falcons' backfield will be among opposing pash rushers to see who can kill Ryan first.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Bow ties are the rage at SEC Media Days, D. Led was ahead of the latest style.

Dman
Dman

Strongest backfield in years in my opinion. Good to see the defense improving.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

We're loaded in the Secondary!!

True was a great selection. Future All Pro.

Alford will get better & better.

Wilson, McClain & Javy are solid backups.

Ricardo Allen is one of Hair-Gel's better draft choices this year.

----

Lowry will surprise -- if he stays healthy.

Motta can play -- if he stays healthy.

Southward can grow -- with coaching.

Can Willy-Mo play to his pay-check?......probably not. :(

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

Yeah CAN'T WAIT to play Carolina kitties with the worst tackler in the NFL playing free.  Thank you Carolina for taking him off our hands.  Falcons running backs are licking their chops to get in the secondary against these fools, and they lost a couple of big ugglies on the DLine.  I look for this defense to be drastically improved this year, if the OLine can do anything we should be playoff team again.

JackClemens
JackClemens

He catches a lot of flak for many of his picks, but Dimitroff did a good thing when he picked Trufant and Alford last year. They are a good tandem already and should only get better.

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

Motta 'neck injury' is a fractured vertebrae. Literally broke his neck, Yikes.   Did not  know Decoud got picked up by carolina. Gonna be fun to watch when the birds play the panthers. Looks like Lowery can tackle.

RangeRover
RangeRover

@CobbCountyBraves


Agreed...great natural talent and the brains not often seen in a DB.  Check out his Wonderlic Score!

RangeRover
RangeRover

@BigCrimson75

I have to beg to differ on Southward...I predict he's a future pro bowler; at least he will be pro bowl caliber.

JSSN
JSSN

@BigCrimson75

Didn't you curse me out for my critiques on Moore's health? At least you put caveats in the assessments.