“Nobody cares what I did for the New York Giants.”
Those words were uttered by Osi Umenyiora earlier this week, and went largely unnoticed due to what he said next:
“So what can I do for the Atlanta Falcons?”
That question at this point is a wide-open contest that all the defensive ends are looking to answer.
Though it wouldn’t be surprising if Umenyiora were to start immediately, it would be wrong to make the assumption that it’s a given. His numbers weren’t the best last year, but his apparent happiness at being a Falcon and his positive, determined attitude can only help. This competition is definitely one to watch, and definitely up in the air at this point.
As he enters his second year with the Falcons, Jonathan Massaquoi is primed and ready for his shot at the top spot. Since the end of last season, he’s worked with his trainer and dedicated himself to his second year with the Falcons being his best ever. He’s already made an impressive showing against Umenyiora in this week’s organized team activities, and that is expected to continue.
What about Kroy Biermann? Biermann himself expects to be called upon to broaden his horizons beyond the defensive end position, and the general consensus seems to point towards a linebacker position. Of the possibilities, Biermann said earlier this week, “Wherever they put me…I’m going to play to the best of my ability.”
Then there are the rookies. Malliciah Goodman is making a good impression on the coaching staff, particularly defensive line coach Ray Hamilton, who calls Goodman “a very smart player…he has a pretty good upside.” Stansly Maponga is the unknown in the defensive end rookie equation; he had foot surgery in March and has not participated in the OTA’s. Training camp will tell Maponga’s tale.
All in all, the competition will be heated…and not just from the steamy summer temperatures.
Who survives that heat remains to be seen.