NFL Atlanta Falcons

Five Players Who Will Have the Most Impact on the Atlanta Falcons 2013 Season

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Five Players Who Will Have the Most Impact on the Atlanta Falcons 2013 Season

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NFL season is upon us at long last. It’s been an unbearable period of waiting for the fans, no doubt. However, the slowest period of waiting has inarguably been for the Atlanta Falcons.

Last season’s devastating loss to the San Francisco 49ers has been on the back of all the Falcons’ minds for all these months. There is much to be accomplished, much to be said and much to get over. The journey to the Super Bowl was so close it could have been touched...ten yards close, to be more specific.

The bare-bones summation of last season (in spite of a winning record) comes to this: So close, yet so far away.

Super Bowl dreams never die. They won’t die for the Falcons (old and new), and they won’t die for the fans (old and new). Both parties are getting edgy, but now isn’t the time for the team to jump the gun. The fans and powers-that-be of the team must remain focused, if not patient. There’s too much at stake for anything else.

On every team in every season, there are players who make a definite impact…some positive and some negative. This season, the Falcons have to have only the positive. The negatives will certainly be eliminated during roster cuts, and the survival of the fittest will produce the best keys to success.

Super Bowl success, that is.

Now, without further ado, here are the five players who will have the most impact on the Falcons’ 2013 season.

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5. Osi Umenyiora

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Coming in at number five is defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Admittedly, last year wasn’t his best year. He’s not getting any younger either.

That being said, he’s breathing new life into the Falcons, and that new life will pay off in a big way this year. His work ethic, leadership and excitement to be a part of the team have already made a valuable impression. Look for that to continue well into the season.

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4. Steven Jackson

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Number four on the list belongs to running back Steven Jackson. He’s been waiting for a Super Bowl opportunity, and he plans on making it happen with the Falcons. As an established veteran, he brings fresh perspective and valuable experience…not to mention that he’s been an absolute beast on the field so far.

The younger guys can learn a lot from him…and they can help keep him on his toes.

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3. Julio Jones

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Number three on the list is wide receiver Julio Jones. He is only continuing to grow and improve; his star will get brighter. His time with the Alabama Crimson Tide established and cemented his focus and work ethic, and it continues to bring huge dividends to the Falcons.

When the other half of the WR dynamic duo Roddy White gets ready to retire, he can rest assured that his shoes may not be replaced, but they will be well-filled.

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2. Matt Ryan

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Quarterback Matt Ryan comes in at number two, even though the quarterback at this stage in the game would normally rank at the top of the impact list. The importance of his position cannot be denied, and it’s time for him to step up and join the ranks of the established Super Bowl quarterbacks.

Ryan is in a prime position to make history for and with the Falcons. The time is now.

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1. Tony Gonzalez

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It may be somewhat of a surprise that tight end Tony Gonzalez ranks at the top of the impact list for 2013, but only just. Let’s face it, he was done at the end of last year; he said so himself enough times. But, the Super Bowl still eluded him.

Not only does Gonzalez want to win the ultimate victory for himself, all his teammates want to win it for him. The bottom line is, the Falcons are a team. Team players, teamwork, team effort. When they win the Super Bowl, they all win it together.

Guys, bring it home.

Leigh Allen is an NFL writer for Follow her on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Google+.