As the anticipation mounts for the approach of the 2014 Falcons training camp, the main position of focus for Atlanta is the quarterbacks.
Matty Ice is rock solid and the obvious starter come week one. However, it’s the quarterbacks who are typically rocking the headsets and carrying the clipboards on the sidelines who are just as important.
The Falcons have added some key backups during the offseason for insurance in the event of a slumping or banged up Matty Ice. I say banged up because of the amount of enormous pressure Mr. Ice was under last season as he was sacked an astounding 44 times for 298 yards.
This year things should be a whole lot different with the retooling of the Falcons offensive line.
It will be interesting to see how the reserve signal callers perform at this summer’s training camp as they compete for the coveted second string position.
Sean Renfree, the Falcons seventh-round pick out of Duke a year ago, is a name that would be considered anonymous for anyone living outside the 404, 678, or 770 area codes. However, that does not mean that he does not have a chance to emerge. Renfree will pick up the pieces from where he left off last season as he was placed on injured reserve shortly before the beginning of the season and compete for the backup spot. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Renfree has the prototypical size to be a capable backup option for Matt Ryan.
Another legitimate candidate for the backup spot for Ryan is veteran T.J. Yates. Yates was acquired via trade with the Houston Texans that sent special team linebacker Akeem Dent to the Texans. Yates provides the Falcons a veteran second string option. Despite going into only his fourth year as a pro, Yates already has veteran experience. He has been put into the fire early on in his career with Houston where he has started five games, including a nationally televised playoff game against Cincinnati in 2011, where he helped lead Houston to a 31-10 rout over the Bengals. Yates completed 11 of his 20 passes attempted in that game and threw a touchdown. Now Yates has an opportunity to start a new chapter in Atlanta.
Last but not least, another undrafted kid is looking to make a name for himself by making the second team offense. He goes by the name of Jeff Matthews. Matthews comes from the Ivy League where he played for Cornell University and scored 72 touchdowns in 38 games. He has the cannon arm but that skillset alone is not going to make the team. It would ultimately be Matthews’ willingness and dedication to learning the pro style offenses and getting adjusted to those schemes before he is even considered being on the Falcons 53-man roster come August, let alone the backup quarterback.