Leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 20 Atlanta Falcons on the 2012 roster.
Who can forget Week 10 last season when wide receiver Harry Douglas flashed his brilliance and upside to the world? Against New Orleans, Douglas hauled in eight passes for 133 yards, setting a career high in both categories.
Douglas became Matt Ryan’s go-to target when Julio Jones left that Week 10 contest with hamstring issues. Even with Roddy White in the game, Ryan found Douglas three times for 66 yards on a late game-tying drive.
But Douglas is always going to be the No. 3 receiver in Atlanta—possibly the fourth option with tight end Tony Gonzalez on the roster.
Now that new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is in Atlanta, the offense may open up, and the passing attack might flourish. If so, there will be more passing attempts to go around. Will Douglas rise up in 2012?
19. Harry Douglas, WR
20. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB
Alex Welch’s opinion:
Now in his third year removed from knee surgery in 2009, Douglas is poised to have his best season yet in the NFL. We saw flashes of brilliance last year from HD, like his eight catch, 133-yard game against New Orleans in overtime. He can be deadly down the seam, and with Koetter implementing a higher octane passing game this season, we can expect bigger things from No. 83.
White and Jones are clearly main weapons for Ryan, but Douglas has to make the most of his chances. The Falcons brought him back for a reason this offseason. Expect to see HD utilized more going forward in 2012.
Knox Bardeen’s opinion:
Douglas made a significant jump from 22 catches in 2010 to 39 last season. Don’t expect an almost 80 percent increase in catches in 2012, however.
With the offense possibly opening up, there will be more to go around. Douglas can definitely increase his offensive numbers, but I don’t see him breaking the 50-catch barrier. If Douglas caught 45 passes for 550 yards, that would be a great season. Especially since he’s likely going to be the Falcons’ return man.
I expect Douglas to enhance his offensive numbers by winning the open punt- and kick-return job during training camp, and doing a fine job with the position. It’s partially because I think he’ll win the return job that his offensive numbers won’t spike as much as people expect.