The Atlanta Falcons open training camp on July 27 at their headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Here's a 53-man roster projection:
Ryan, the reigning MVP, is durable and hasn't missed a game since 2009. Schaub has experience with 92 career starts.
Freeman and Coleman, with a combined 4,527 yards from scrimmage and 39 touchdowns over the past two seasons, form arguably the best 1-2 running back combo in the league. Daniels, a college quarterback, has played quarterback, running back and receiver in the NFL and also has return ability, so he's the wild card to surpass Terron Ward as the No. 3. Rookie draft pick Brian Hill struggled in minicamp but has potential.
FULLBACK (1): Derrick Coleman
The first legally deaf offensive player in NFL history, Coleman has a relentless work ethic and can keep up to speed on offense thanks, in part, to reading lips. Undrafted rookie Tyler Renew will attempt to compete with Coleman at camp.
Jones, one of the most dominant players in the league, insists he'll be fully recovered from surgery to remove a bunion on his left foot. Sanu has been strong and sure-handed, and Gabriel is a dangerous, speedy deep threat. Roberts could handle kick-return duties, but it's not a given. Devin Fuller, who missed all of his rookie season with a shoulder injury, wants to prove himself worthy.
Hooper is ready to take that next step and has become a much better route runner. Toilolo has found a niche in blocking. Perkins has to play more physically or the rookie Saubert will move ahead of him.
With veteran Chris Chester retiring, the competition for the starting right guard spot will be intense between Schweitzer and Garland. Matthews, a former first-round pick, has to take his game to another level and be a difference-maker coming off a costly Super Bowl mistake. Mack is the line's anchor and Schraeder has become a force. Graf is in the lead right now for swing tackle, and Knappe could be developed on the practice squad first.
The Falcons started last season with nine defensive linemen but cut Tyson Jackson and didn't re-sign Jonathan Babineaux and Dwight Freeney. Although much of the attention is focused on the addition of the two-time Pro Bowler Poe, Jarrett is a guy with superstar potential coming off a three-sack performance in the Super Bowl. McKinley brings relentless rush ability and more toughness up front, provided he's fully healthy from pre-draft shoulder surgery. Clayborn (biceps) and Shelby (Achilles) return from season-ending injuries. Don't discount the possibility of undrafted rookie J'terius Jones from Miami of Ohio making the roster as another pass-rusher.
Beasley, listed as an outside linebacker, led the league with 15.5 sacks last season. Perhaps just as impressive were his six forced fumbles, which tied Oakland's Bruce Irvin for the league lead. Jones had a tremendous rookie year in orchestrating the defense and displaying his outstanding speed. Campbell should see things better in Year 2 after having Lasik surgery. The rookie Riley, with infectious energy, could run his way into a starting spot.
The return of the Pro Bowler Trufant from last year's season-ending pectoral surgery will be a tremendous boost for the defense. Alford has all the tools to be special but needs to avoid penalties. The guy to watch is Goodwin, a converted receiver with tremendous athleticism who continues to grow into the position.
Allen is a leader who understands the defense better than anybody, and new defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel raved about what Allen brings to the team. Neal is a hard hitter in the mold of his mentor, Kam Chancellor. He'll only get better with time. Kazee is a rookie with ball-hawking ability who can back up Allen, although he has played more nickel so far. The Falcons can always move Kemal Ishmael back to strong safety in case anything happens to Neal.
Bryant, at age 42, just keeps on kicking, although the team appears to be grooming Mike Meyer. Bosher has been consistent, and Harris does his job very well.