The Falcons Have Offensive Line Issues
When the Atlanta Falcons walked off the field after their NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers last season, the team had featured a veteran and cohesive offensive line. C Todd McClure, LG Justin Blalock and RT Tyson Clabo had been veteran mainstays for years. LT Sam Baker had returned to form in 2012 after an injury plagued 2011 and RG Peter Konz proved he was capable of starting in the league as a rookie. In total, the group that left the field that day had combined to start 457 games in the NFL.
What a difference an offseason in the NFL makes.
The 2013 Falcons are largely the same team as the 2012 squad with the exception of their offensive line. Gone are veterans McClure (retirement) and Clabo (free agency). With Konz moving to center, the Falcons will feature three new starters on their offensive line in 2013.
The concern begins at right tackle, where the Falcons lost Mike Johnson for perhaps the season due to an ankle dislocation and broken fibula. Johnson had been receiving first team reps this preseason with his primary competition being 2012 third round pick Lamar Holmes. Holmes appeared in just one game last season. At right guard, Garrett Reynolds is getting a shot to prove that he can be a 16 game starter in the NFL.
In total, the 2013 Falcons offensive line combines for 174 career NFL starts.
According to NFL.com, the Falcons offensive line allowed 83 hits on Pro Bowl QB Matt Ryan during the 2012 season, the eigth worst ranking in the league. This overhaul of the offensive line will not only be judged in points and yards, but also in keeping Ryan upright more often in 2013.