Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Saturday, August 2, 2014
Falcons' Nolan concerned about safety depth

By Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan addressed a variety of topics following Saturday's practice.

One of his primary concerns is the lack of depth at safety in the preseason, considering he would prefer to keep his starters fresh for the regular season. Strong safety William Moore is healthy, but fellow starter Dwight Lowery suffered what head coach Mike Smith said might be a head injury during Friday night's practice.

The Falcons already are down two safeties with Zeke Motta likely out for the season following neck surgery and rookie Dez Southward sidelined at least a week with a left knee injury.

"You don't want to come out of a preseason game where your starter had to play -- say he had to play 50 snaps," Nolan said. "That's not a good way to have a preseason because that wears those guys out. And by the time they get to the regular season, that's not a good thing. So I'm concerned for that reason."

Players such as Kemal Ishmael and Sean Baker will get longer looks at safety if the injuries to Lowery and Southward linger. Kimario McFadden is another guy in the group.

"And Kemal's had a good camp," Nolan said. "Kemal's done a nice job. ... He's made some a good strides from a year ago. I know he's [10 pounds] lighter and he's moving a lot better. He's one of the guys that's been able to take advantage of some of the things with the front line being a little stouter, just from the standpoint of coming up and closing the gap. Baker has also stepped up his game.

"All of those guys from last year were kind of just young guys running around or new to our system. Kemal and Baker have made some good strides. I'm kind of excited to see what they do."

Nolan, of course, would prefer to start the season with Moore and Lowery as the starting safeties.

"He's in the right place more often than not," Nolan said. "And he's been making some plays. He's a very athletic guy. He's got good size. Our two safeties look good. If nothing else, they look good getting off the bus."