The Atlanta Falcons haven’t been afraid to cut players they signed this offseason, as they cut Lofa Tatupu before the weekend started, and then cut Vince Manuwai on Saturday.
This has got to be good news for Falcons fans. It means that the Falcons front office feel good enough about the young guys they have on the roster competing for the right guard spot to cut Manuwai. I’ll be honest, we never really wanted Vince to start during the regular season. He was brought in to be a veteran presence to push the young guys in competition. Maybe they would be able to learn something from him too. Obviously they can’t learn from him anymore.
So who is competing for the guard spot opposite Justin Blalock? We can narrow it down to Garrett Reynolds, Peter Konz, Mike Johnson, and Joe Hawley. Reynolds was the starter initially in 2011, but he was miserable. Maybe he has improved over last season. I sure hope so, but we don’t put all of our hopes on him. Rookie Peter Konz is still in his first few days of training camp, but there is still time for him to potentially rise up the depth charts. He could also have potential at center. Mike Johnson has been injured the last couple seasons, but was great at Alabama, and could contend for the guard spot. I think a healthy Johnson could be a good option, or a solid backup, and he is also cross-training at the tackle position. Finally we have Joe Hawley, who will compete at guard, but if Todd McClure proves that age has finally caught up with him, he would move to center and probably be out of the running for the guard job. I love McClure more than most fans, but I would personally rather see a younger player with higher upside (Hawley) playing the center position.
Obviously we have a multitude of viable options in contention for the open guard position. However, I really hope that the person who starts the season at right guard doesn’t get it by default; they need to win it and look tremendous while doing so. It will be interesting to see who gets the job out of camp.