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Mailbag: Atlanta Falcons edition

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
The Atlanta Falcons are the final stop in our series of team-by-team mailbags.

LR in Warner Robins, Ga., writes: Who you think will be the Atlanta Falcons starting Strong Safety, DeCoud or Moore?

Pat Yasinskas: Too early to tell right now. This is going to be one of the more interesting battles in training camp. In the recent minicamp, Thomas DeCoud worked with the first team and William Moore with the second. But it's common to open minicamp with the guy who's been around ahead of the rookie. The Falcons used a second-round pick on Moore and that means they think he can probably start. But that's not a given. DeCoud can win this job if he has the better preseason.


Steve in New Haven, Conn., writes: hey Pat, love the blog, while you were at camp, did you take a look at the CB's? It seems Houston is going to be our RCB, but at LCB we have an open competition. Who do you think will be the other starter? Grimes, Hutchins, Jackson, Owens? I'd like to see Jackson starting, Owens in the nickel, and Grimes or Hutchins fightin for the 4th CB spot. Anyways, how do you think it'll play out??? Thnks

Pat Yasinskas: I think the Falcons definitely view the cornerback spot opposite Chris Houston as an open competition. In this case, I think that's a healthy thing. They're going to throw Brent Grimes, Von Hutchins, Chevis Jackson and Chris Owens out there and see who rises up. They're high on Jackson after what he flashed as a rookie and they see Owens as a guy who can be a starter at some point. If Jackson and Owens have solid preseasons, they could join Houston in the trio of top cornerbacks.


Niklas in Aarhus, Denmark, writes: Hey Pat! Who do you see as next year's breakout candidates on the Falcons squad, and why?

Pat Yasinskas: I'll go with linebacker Stephen Nicholas. I think his skills fit what coach Mike Smith wants from the strong side and Nicholas has had time to develop. I know the Falcons lost Keith Brooking and Michael Boley after last season, but I think the linebacker corps can be better than it was a year ago.


Ben in Macon, Ga., writes: How long do you give the rest of the NFC South fans before they start REALLY hating the Falcons? All this national media attention, combined with media darling Matt Ryan, has to be grating on them. Am I right?

Pat Yasinskas: Wow, I'll leave that one up to the NFC South fans to decide. But there's no question the Falcons are becoming somewhat of the media darling of the division and Ryan is at the center of it all. Kind of amazing how much more respect the Falcons are getting than they did this time a year ago. They earned that respect with last season. But now they've got to keep that respect by playing well.


Dash in Nashville writes: Do you think there's any chance the Falcons can get any team to trade for Mike Vick? Even if it's a 7th rounder for next year?

Pat Yasinskas: Doubt it. I just don't see teams willing to give up a pick for a guy who's going to be cut anyway. If Thomas Dimitroff somehow gets anything for Vick, he's even more of a genius than I already think he is.


DBell in Rome, Ga., Writes: With Tony Gonzales giving the Falcons a serious TE threat, how will Ovie Mughelli's role at FB be affected? The Falcons paid him more than any other FB ever, and I feel he's been under-used. Do you think he'll now see less time with the Falcons likely to use more two-TE sets?

Pat Yasinskas: Don't sell Mughelli short. The guy played a huge role as a blocker for Michael Turner last season. Yeah, he doesn't get to catch or run the ball very often, but his role as a blocker is an important part of Atlanta's offense. Yes, you'll see some sets where the Falcons use two tight ends and have Mughelli on the sidelines. But I think he'll be on the field for a lot of running plays and to help protect Ryan on passing downs.