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Earlier this year the Falcons released three of their top five cornerbacks: Chris Owens, Dunta Robinson, a player notorious for his hard, illegal hitting, and Brent Grimes, a beloved player who missed the entire 2012 season due to injury. That left Asante Samuel and Robert McClain holding the reins, ready and willing to guide the others.
With 36 tackles, 19 pass deflections, 5 interceptions, and one touchdown, veteran Asante Samuel was a key player for Atlanta last season. Don’t let his age, 32, fool you. In 2012 Samuel was nothing short of impressive. Although he was known for occasionally missing tackles, he had great coverage against some of the league’s most elite receivers. Samuel is hands down the best corner on the roster. His time’s not up just yet, and he will show us all why in 2013.
Robert McClain was a pleasant surprise in 2012. He accumulated 61 tackles, snagged one interception, and deflected 10 passes. Not too shabby for a 24-year old rookie. He will only continue to get better. Alongside the likes of Samuel, McClain should prove to be a very useful weapon for Atlanta in 2013. A valuable player, indeed.
Rookies Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford have made quite a bit of noise this offseason. Coach Mike Smith expressed how impressed he was with Alford and Trufant’s skills at rookie camp, one highlight being their speed. The first-and second-round draft picks have already formed a bond and are working together to make each other better. Having both of these guys is filling a huge need for the Dirty Birds. Thomas Dimitroff knows exactly what he is doing.
Dominique Franks. He showed such promise in last year’s preseason games, but what happened after that? To put it nicely, he was not that great last season. He had many moments where his performance was mediocre. Nothing spectacular. Granted, he is only 25 years old and still has plenty of room to grow and improve, but there is a small chance he may not make it very far in 2013.
Peyton Thompson and Terrence Johnson are also looking to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Many believe that Thompson should get the spot instead of Franks. Others think that Johnson was just brought on as a last minute fix to losing Grimes last season and won’t amount to much in 2013. It’s safe to they’re both going to be showing what they are capable of at training camp this summer.
Prior to the draft, the cornerback position was one of the weakest for the Falcons. With the addition of Alford and Trufant, things could finally be looking up for Atlanta on defense. There’s a glimmer of hope for fans.