Falcons position battles

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Here's a look at two of the best position battles for the Falcons:

Quarterback: Matt Ryan vs. Chris Redman (or even Joey Harrington)

The Falcons drafted Ryan with the No. 3 overall pick and there's no question he's the future of this franchise. But is he the present?

That's a dilemma for new coach Mike Smith, who hasn't made his immediate intentions for Ryan known. The Falcons have a lot invested in Ryan and he has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback. But the Falcons likely are giving some serious thought to whether they want to play Ryan right away.

The team isn't likely to be that good and the Falcons could run the risk of turning Ryan into another David Carr if they start him immediately. This is a unique situation because fans are likely to be patient with the Falcons after last season's debacle.

Redman, who had been out of football, played surprisingly well and showed good poise late last season. It might be safer to let him, or Harrington, take the lumps early on and give Ryan some time to get prepared and comfortable.

Intensity index: Red hot

Running back: Michael Turner vs. Jerious Norwood.

When the Falcons went out and signed Turner to a big contract at the start of free agency, the obvious assumption was that he'll be the feature back. But don't rule out Norwood turning this into a battle. In his first two seasons, Norwood averaged 6.2 yards a carry behind Warrick Dunn and he also catches the ball well out of the backfield. But there are questions about Norwood's size and ability to carry a heavy load. Turner is bigger and a more powerful runner, but Norwood could use camp to at least increase his role.

Intensity index: Mild