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NFL Atlanta Falcons

5 Things We’ve Learned From Atlanta Falcons’ Early OTAs

5 Things We've Learned From Atlanta Falcons' Early OTAs

Mike Smith
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are currently conducting OTAs in Flowery Branch, Georgia with the ambition of returning to Super Bowl-caliber form. Here are five revelations about this year's club that have come to light thus far.

5. Devonta Freeman Already Impressing

Devonta Freeman
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

5. Devonta Freeman Already Impressing

Devonta Freeman
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Word out of the Falcons' three-day rookie minicamp was that fourth-round pick Devonta Freeman stole the show. Freeman has limited size and speed, but runs hard between the tackles and has enough lateral agility and burst to produce chunk yardage. He's also proficient as a pass catcher and in pass protection. Don't rule out Freeman being Atlanta's feature back by season's end.

4. Devin Hester Focusing on Special Teams

Devin Hester
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

4. Devin Hester Focusing on Special Teams

Devin Hester
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

During his eight seasons with the Bears, Devin Hester saw plenty of action at receiver and even some time at cornerback. He was never much of an asset at either spot, though. Thus, in Atlanta, Hester has been focusing primarily on return duties thus far.

3. Joe Hawley Favorite to Start at C

Joe Hawley
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

3. Joe Hawley Favorite to Start at C

Joe Hawley
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Hawley and Peter Konz have entered offseason training in a battle for the starting center spot. It would be quite the surprise if anyone other than Hawley is the starting center come Week 1, however. Hawley was re-signed to a two-year contract this offseaosn and outplayed Konz in 2013.

2. Prince Shembo Playing ILB

Prince Shembo
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

2. Prince Shembo Playing ILB

Prince Shembo
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Despite rushing from the edge at Notre Dame, fourth-round pick Prince Shembo has seen time at inside linebacker during OTAs in the Falcons' 3-4 front. Shembo never had a high ceiling as an edge rusher, so a move inside, where he's arguably more capable as a straight-line blitzer, could serve him well.

1. Stansly Maponga Currently Starting at OLB

Stansly Maponga
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

1. Stansly Maponga Currently Starting at OLB

Stansly Maponga
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2013 fifth-round pick Stansly Maponga has opened OTAs as a starting outside linebacker for the Falcons. Maponga only registered five tackles as a rookie, so his insertion into the starting lineup, either temporarily or permanently, likely speaks more about Atlanta's lack of talent at the position than his own prowess.