While you are sitting there with a bratwurst and baby-back hangover from Memorial Day, I will help nurse you back to health with an introduction to Organized Team Activities or OTAs. OTAs are typically the final week of May or first week of June and are useful to teams with new offensive or defensive coordinators. In other words, this years OTA will be the most important OTA since 2008 for the Falcons. The good news for the Falcons is that they currently have zero veterans holding out so everyone will be able to participate in this week's practices.
So here are a few things to look for during these OTAs:
Who will replace Eric Weems?
With Weems off to the Bears the Falcons need to figure out who will be returning kickoffs and punts for them this year. Many assume Dominique Franks is the guy but James Rodgers (Jacquizz's older brother) could be competing for this spot as well as another rookie Cody Pearcy from Huntingdon who can flat out fly. It is too bad that Harry Douglas has #83 locked up because Cody Pearcy will look even more like Tim Dwight than he does already. The return game has been limited since the kickoff was moved to the 35 yard line but it still is an important part and could potentially be a game changer.
Will Mike Nolan implement his 3-4 defense right away or will they stick to the 3-4 or even a mixture of both?
The Falcons have mentioned that they are going to stick with a 4-3 scheme but there are several reasons why this is hard to believe. For starters, Curtis Lofton is the prototypical 4-3 linebacker and the opposite of a 3-4 middle linebacker and though it would have taken a little bit of work to resign him, it could have been done. So why was the front office so quick to let him go? Furthermore, why did they hire Mike Nolan as DC, one of the most known proponents of the 3-4 defense? That would be like hiring a French Chef when you are opening a Mexican restaurant. My guess is that there will be a mixture of both defenses but the change to the 3-4 is inevitable.
Who will take Curtis Lofton's spot?
The two clubhouse leaders are Akeem Dent and Lofa Tatupu. Akeem Dent showed some promise last year and is also the hometown favorite since he grew up only a few miles from the Georgia Dome and played at the University of Georgia. Akeem Dent thrived in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense at Georgia in 2010. He is versatile and intelligent, two key attributes in a 3-4 mike backer. Lofa Tatupu, on the other hand, was a fantastic player before his injury in 2009 (torn pectoral muscle). Tatupu also played in a 3-4 system in Seattle (yet another reason to assume the 3-4 switch). It will be interesting to see which of these two get the most reps with the starting team or will both of them be starting middle linebackers in the 3-4?
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