With training camp starting a week from now, one component of the Falcons unit to keep an eye on is the secondary. The Falcons could definitely use some fine tuning in that department, especially considering they finished in the bottom ten in the NFL last season in passing yards allowed.
There are high expectations for the secondary heading in to camp. Falcons’ secondary coach Tim Lewis will work extremely hard to ensure this corps of young defensive backs meet or exceed those expectations.
Lewis himself was a cornerback who was a first-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft that excelled at that position in his short career in the league. Lewis led the Green Bay Packers in interceptions for two seasons in the 80’s. One of his interceptions was a 99-yard pick six that remains the team record for longest interception return.
Now it is up to Lewis to help mold this Falcons’ young secondary into a solid unit through development in training camp.
Headlining this talented secondary is Desmond Trufant who is looking to expand on his successful rookie campaign with an even more impressive sophomore season. Trufant finished his rookie season with 70 tackles, 17 passes defended, and two interceptions and was named to the All-Rookie Team. These numbers attest to his incredible vertical leap and effective press cover skills.
Another player in the secondary unit to obviously be on the lookout for is safety William Moore, who two seasons ago was named to the Pro Bowl. He, like Trufant, has impressive cover skills. Moore is also a dominant force in neutralizing the backfield and getting pressure on the quarterback once he is put into the box.
Opposite of Moore at the free safety position, Falcons’ off-season signee Dwight Lowery could also prove a significant spark to this re-emerging secondary. The question is can Lowery endure training camp and remain healthy throughout the course of the season. Lowery’s season ended prematurely last season after he was placed on injured reserve as a result of sustaining a concussion with Jacksonville. If Lowery can remain healthy alongside Moore, this dynamic duo could be the most lethal combination of safeties in the league.
Other members of the secondary to be aware of come training camp are:
Robert Alford, second round pick for Atlanta last season, who is the projected starter at left cornerback.
Josh Wilson, 2014 offseason acquisition for Atlanta, who is projected to be used primarily in nickel situations.
Javier Arenas, primarily a special team guru but solid cover corner, who will compete with rookie Ricardo Allen for the second spot on the depth chart for right cornerback behind Trufant.
Dezman Southward, the rookie from Wisconsin, who has made a name for himself during rookie minicamps and has his work cut out for him as far as competing with Lowery in training camp to obtain the starting free safety position.
It will be an intriguing training camp for the Falcons starting next week. The performance of the secondary during camp and the regular season would perhaps be one of the most compelling stories not only for Atlanta but the NFC South collectively.