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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Mailbag: Atlanta Falcons edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

It's time to talk about the Atlanta Falcons in our post-draft series of team-by-team mailbags.

Casey in Atlanta writes: What's up, Pat. I have like the Jerry pick, and the Gonzalez move was outstanding. Arguably, neither addition is as big as the Petersen pick-up. Still, my main concern (for the past year now) is when is Jamaal Anderson going to be cut/ released/ retired/ traded/ placed on practice squad/ rocketed to Mars, etc.?

Pat Yasinskas: A lot of Atlanta fans are wondering the same thing. But the Falcons aren't going to give up on Anderson after just two years. Mike Smith and his staff still see some potential and will try to coach it out of him in training camp and the preseason. If it doesn't start to surface, you may see Chauncey Davis move into the starting role and rookie Lawrence Sidbury could start off as a nice situational pass-rusher.


Ryan in Marietta writes: Pat, any thoughts on the falcons signing leroy hill now that the seahawks have made him available? they didnt really solve their need for depth at linebacker with the draft so he would be a good pick-up.

Pat Yasinskas: You never rule anything out, but the Falcons are intent on building their core through the draft (veterans like Tony Gonzalez and Mike Peterson are being used to fill holes for a year or two). Hill would qualify as a core player and his price tag may be more than the Falcons want to pay.


John in parts unknown writes: Pat, do you think that Coach Smith may use Lawrence Sidbury (I'll offer a nickname, "L Sid") in his 3-4 packages as a pass rusher off the edge? He's pretty darn fast in the "10", I hear. Thanks,

Pat Yasinskas: Tell you what, I like the Sidbury pick a lot. The guy has lots of upside and I think Smith and his coaching staff can make him into a player. He may be just a pass-rusher initially, but the Falcons wouldn't have taken him if they didn't think he could grow into an every-down end.


Allen in New York writes: Hey Pat, do you think Steve Nicholis is ready to start for the Falcons? The Falcons didn't really add anyone in the draft that could challenge him. Do you think it will be a training camp battle between him and Coy Wire?

Pat Yasinskas: I think Stephen Nicholas will get a long look in the preseason. Coy Wire did a nice job at strong-side linebacker late last season and may keep the starting job. But the Atlanta coaches are high on Nicholas and he could get a shot if he has a good training camp.


John in Atlanta writes: your blog has kept me alive this offseason, great job pat. I am satisfied with the falcons draft but our secondary and defense as a whole is now VERY young. this is obviously a good thing but with the falcons facing a brutal schedule how well do you see our ripe defense doing against the nfc east, tom brady, jay cutler and of course the rest of the nfc south?

Pat Yasinskas: Valid question. The coaching staff may be higher on the secondary than the rest of us. They should know what they have and they're counting on Chris Houston to be their lead corner with Brent Grimes or Von Hutchins on the other side. Houston continues to improve and Grimes and Hutchins aren't bad. I think the big question is at strong safety, where rookie William Moore and Thomas DeCoud will compete. Yes, this secondary might not look great on paper. But Smith got the secondary to hold up pretty well last season. He's brought in some younger legs and will try to help the defensive backs out by providing a pass rush that goes beyond John Abraham. One other thing I should mention: Assistant coach Emmitt Thomas works with the secondary and he's one of the best in the business.