When the projected starter at right tackle, Mike Johnson, went down with a dislocated left ankle and a broken left leg that will most likely keep him out for the entire season, the Atlanta Falcons‘ quickly shifted their eyes to Lamar Holmes.
During training camp, the Falcons’ coaching staff were in the progress of grooming Holmes to man the right-tackle position, which is a key position in keeping out rushers going in Matt Ryan‘s face during passing situations. With Johnson out of the equation due to a season-ending injury, Holmes progress went from preparing to “Battle” mode.
The main goal was for Holmes to take that position away from Johnson, but instead struggled with his consistency, particularly in running situations. Instead of Holmes displaying his potential in marking his spot on the line, Holmes will now have to prove that he belongs there and is the right man for the job.
Against the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason opener, the Falcons’ offensive line showed the same weaknesses that haunted them in the 2012 NFC Championship game. It was third-and-2 on the Bengals 16-yard line in the first quarter. As they handed off the ball to their new running back Steven Jackson, Geno Atkins of the Bengals blew through the line and stuffed Jackson in the backfield.
Although it was not Holmes’ fault, as Atkins defeated right-guard Garrett Reynolds with ease, all eyes will be on Holmes to step up and protect their franchise quarterback from getting knocked out. Plus, with Holmes clearly a liability in run blocking until he proves otherwise, it will be up to Holmes to help Jackson become the impact player they need him to be in the backfield.
As preseason continues, the Falcons are hoping that by the third game they will have the upmost confidence in Holmes, but should he fail, Ryan Schraeder will get a chance to take over and show his value.
It’s now or never for the second-year pro, and it will be up to Holmes whether he capitalizes on this opportunity to be a member of the Dirty Birds’ family.