4 Atlanta Falcons who must step up against the Saints in week one
By Nick Halden
2. Drew Dalman
Matt Hennessy and Drew Dalman competed throughout camp and the preseason for the starting center role with the competition rolling all the way into game week. It now appears that Dalman will start the first game though Arthur Smith hasn’t been clear on how much of a hold Dalman has on the starting job. Matt Hennessy struggled last season but a large part of his issues were often tied to poor play at left guard and an inexperienced center trying to cover up his assignment and the mistakes around him.
The result was an inconsistent center who wasn’t able to protect Matt Ryan with any consistency last season. Now the responsibility falls to Drew Dalman to give Marcus Mariota a chance on Sunday. Even with Mariota’s mobility if the pocket implodes on the snap as it did so often last season he won’t have a chance.
New left guard Elijah Wilkinson and center Drew Dalman must give Mariota enough time to take the snap and be able to escape the pocket. The starting center doesn’t need to be perfect in this game just capable. If Dalman can hold up his blocks long enough for Mariota to have a chance the offensive line will take a massive step forward.