Atlanta Falcons: Seven Final Preseason Position Battles

Atlanta Falcons Ito Smith (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons Ito Smith (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons Ben Garland (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Offensive Line

Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn solidified the starting offensive line this week, when he named Brandon Fusco the starter at right guard. Fusco joins tackles Jake Mathews, and Ryan Schrader, guard Andy Levitre, and pro bowl center Alex Mack, to form the wall of protection for Matt Ryan. Fusco who was signed away from the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, mostly won the job by his ability to open up big lanes in the run game.

Wes Switzer, last season’s starting right guard, is being cross trained at center, and is nearly a lock to make the 53 man roster. Ben Garland, aka captain, is a shoe-in as well. He is one of the most versatile players on the Atlanta Falcons roster, having the ability to play guard, and center as well as defensive tackle. He is also used as an extra blocker, in the heavy goal-line package.

The Falcons are certain to keep at least one extra offensive tackle. Ty Sambrailo, who was acquired prior to last season for a 5th round pick from Denver, and Austin Pastor, who was claimed off waivers from Cleveland before last year, are the top candidates. Both could make the club, or the Atlanta Falcons could elect to keep just one. That makes tonight’s evaluation an important one.

There could possibly be one more interior spot up for grabs on the Atlanta Falcons second string offensive line. Jamal Douglas, a fourth round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2015, will attempt to make the team against his former club. Douglas stands 6’4″ and weighs 309 pounds, and played college football at Arizona State University. He has the ability to play guard and center, and coaches have raved about him this offseason.

Sean Harlow was a 4th round pick by the Atlanta Falcons, in the 2017 draft out of Oregon State University. He has the ability to play guard and center as well. Harlow has been relegated to third string most of the preseason, so anything short of a dominant performance, will likely result in him being released. Should he be released and clear waivers, he is a candidate for the team’s practice squad.