- John Clayton, NFL senior writer
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A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.
On the national radar, Harry Douglas’ No. 83 is almost invisible. In Atlanta, No. 83 might be the most interesting Falcon to follow in 2010 and beyond.
Even though the Falcons held Douglas out of team-related drills this offseason coming off his knee reconstruction, Douglas is expected to be a big part of the offense. That might sound strange for a player with only 23 career catches, but the Falcons realize he is more than just a good slot receiver.
Douglas worked the slot as a backup in 2008 and immediately won the respect of coaches and players. In 2009, Douglas’ knee injury robbed QB Matt Ryan of a value target in the middle of the field and the passing offense suffered. But there are many players and coaches in the Falcons’ organization who believe Douglas should be a starting receiver on the other side of Pro Bowler Roddy White.
The plan this summer is to work Douglas gradually into the lineup, not wanting to risk an injury setback. If he does well, the Falcons will have a formidable three-receiver set of White, Douglas and Michael Jenkins. Don’t forget Tony Gonzalez as the tight end.
If Douglas achieves the level of play the organization expects of him, he could press for Jenkins’ starting job in 2011. Douglas offers a player with great hands and run-after-the-catch ability. He averaged 13.9 yards per reception in 2008, which is two-and-a-half yards more than most slot receivers. His role in the Falcons’offense could be one of the keys to a possible 11- or 12-win season.