5 Storylines to Follow During Atlanta Falcons Training Camp

Atlanta Falcons: 5 Storylines to Follow During Training Camp

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons QB
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The Atlanta Falcons open training camp looking to finally get the bad taste out of their mouth from last season’s disappointment and turn the page to 2014. This Falcons' camp has the most intrigue of any in Flowery Branch since 2008 when Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and Matt Ryan took over the reigns. Here are just a few storylines worth watching as camp unfolds.

5. Health

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons WR
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

5. Health

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons WR
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons were hit hard by injury in 2013, none bigger than losing Julio Jones. This offseason has already seen them lose linebacker Sean Weatherspoon for the year to an Achilles rupture. For the Falcons to succeed in 2014, they need their veterans to remain healthy and those coming off injury to return to form. If Sam Baker, Kroy Biermann and Jones can bounce back the Falcons could make a quick turnaround.

4. Offensive Line

Sam Baker, Atlanta Falcons OT
Brad Mills-USA TODAY SportsBrad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

4. Offensive Line

Sam Baker, Atlanta Falcons OT
Brad Mills-USA TODAY SportsBrad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Ryan was destroyed for most of the season last year behind a porous offensive line. The front office has upgraded by adding guard Jon Asamoah and rookie tackle Jake Matthews to the mix. It will be interesting to see how they gel on the right side and how much improvement the line can make in one offseason. Another story worth watching is if Matthews can supplant Baker on the left side as a rookie. It should be a good battle through camp.

3. Pass Rush

Jonathan Massaquoi, Atlanta Falcons OLB
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

3. Pass Rush

Jonathan Massaquoi, Atlanta Falcons OLB 2
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

One area the Falcons needed to upgrade was the pass rush. It will largely be the same cast from last season, with Biermann returning from injury. They added some pieces late in the draft in Prince Shembo, Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr, but none of those guys are immediate impact players. Atlanta is betting the farm on Jonathan Massaquoi developing into the guy in that front seven along with Stansly Maponga and Malliciah Goodman.

2. Safety Battle

Dez Southward, Atlanta Falcons S
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

2. Safety Battle

Dez Southward, Atlanta Falcons S
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

William Moore is a lock to start, but who is next to him is up in the air. The Falcons signed veteran Dwight Lowery to add to the mix and drafted intriguing combine freak Dez Southward. Lowery brings consistency and experience but also has a long injury history. Southward brings a high ceiling and All-Pro potential with his physical ability, but he's very raw. The Falcons would probably love Southward to win the job, but Lowery is a nice option.

1. "Hard Knocks"

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons WR
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

1. "Hard Knocks"

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons WR
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest storyline of camp by far is the Falcons finally agreeing to appear on HBO’s "Hard Knocks". Rumors in the aftermath of the announcement pointed to the football side still saying no but possibly Arthur Blank pulling rank. Will it be a distraction? The Falcons have resisted for years, so it’s bound to create some tension in camp that a team trying to return to the playoffs doesn't need; but watching Roddy White should be entertaining.