First impressions on Falcons coming soon

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
12:09
PM ET
We’ve heard plenty recently from organized team activities for the Buccaneers, Saints and Panthers. But we haven’t heard from the Atlanta Falcons.

There’s a reason for that. The Falcons haven’t had media access during their organized team activities. But that’s about to change.

The Falcons are on the practice field right now and they’ll be wrapping up about 12:30 p.m. After that, coach Mike Smith and players will do interviews with the media.

As soon as the transcripts start coming out a bit later this afternoon, I’ll provide you with the highlights.

Meantime, take a look at D. Orlando Ledbetter’s list of five things to watch during organized team activities. He touches on all the key points.

There are several things I’m curious to hear about, especially who is lining up where on defense. Will second-year pro Akeem Dent or veteran Lofa Tatupu line up at middle linebacker with the first-team defense? I think Dent is the guy the Falcons want there when the regular season opens. But Dent has to show he’s ready for the job and Tatupu could work with the first team to start with. The other big question is how the Falcons will use their top three cornerbacks: Asante Samuel, Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson. The Falcons have implied they plan to use Robinson in the slot in the nickel package, but we’ll see if that’s how things are shaping up in the early stages.

But the big questions aren’t just on defense. With Eric Weems departing in free agency, the Falcons need someone to return kickoffs and punts. Receiver Harry Douglas and cornerback Dominique Franks have some experience in those roles, but the Falcons may be taking long looks at some of their younger players.

Ledbetter also wonders how much time will be spent working on screen passes. So do I. The Falcons have used the screen less than any team in the league in recent years. That’s expected to change with Dirk Koetter taking over as offensive coordinator and the Falcons wanting to get second-year running back Jacquizz Rodgers more involved in the offense. I wouldn’t expect the Falcons to spend Tuesday’s entire practice working just on screens, but it would be nice to hear if they’re devoting at least a little time to them.

Stay tuned. We’ll be back with highlights of whatever emerges out of the Falcons this afternoon.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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