- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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The season starts in less than a week, but Atlanta coach Mike Smith isn’t ready to name his starting lineup.
When specifically asked Monday to name his starting right guard and starting cornerbacks, Smith declined.
“[Ask] At the end of the game on Sunday, and we’ll see,’’ Smith said. “I’m not going to discuss it simply because I’m not going to give a competitive advantage to our opponent. It’s been a competitive situation not only there, but other positions. We’re working towards that right now in terms of who’s going to be playing where.”
I think Smith already has a good idea who will be starting at those positions. At right guard, it either will be veteran Garrett Reynolds or rookie Peter Konz. Reynolds started last year and the Falcons brought in Konz to replace him. I think the Falcons wanted Konz starting sooner, rather than later. But it appears the Falcons might not be sure Konz is ready. At cornerback, Brent Grimes, Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson are the candidates to start. But all three will play extensively. Robinson will line up inside in nickel situations, so the only real question is if he’ll be sliding in from the outside or if he’ll be sliding in from the sideline with Samuel as the starter.
Smith was so guarded, he wouldn’t even reveal who will be the punt returner. Cornerback Dominique Franks had appeared to be the leader for that job, but the Falcons cut Franks on Friday. It’s pretty likely wide receiver Harry Douglas will handle punt returns, but Smith wasn’t about to confirm that.
“I can’t tell you who our punt returner is going to be either,’’ Smith said. “We’ve got three guys that can do it. We’ll trot that guy out there hopefully on the first series. I don’t mean to be non-transparent, but I don’t think it gives us any advantage to talk about who is going to play in what positions in our opening game.”