FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The 2012 Atlanta Falcons Training Camp begins Thursday at 10:40 a.m. when the team takes the field for a 45-minute walkthrough followed by a full-team practice at 3:30 p.m.
With the new training-camp rules in place, teams are allowed 90 roster spots for the first few weeks of camp. The Falcons selected six players in the NFL draft in April and signed 25 undrafted free agents shortly after.
Here’s your chance to get to know the 31 rookies in Falcons camp:
Peter Konz, OG, Wisconsin (6-5, 314)
Even though Peter Konz played center in college and would be a natural fit to be the heir apparent to Todd McClure at center, the Falcons drafted him to play guard and will enjoy the versatility he brings to the table to play multiple positions. Konz is quick and agile, even at 314 pounds, and brings an athleticism to the team that will make him a player who can help the Falcons in more ways than one.
His frame makes him valuable in the run game because he does a good job of moving defenders off the line of scrimmage. He’s nimble enough to be the pulling guard on certain runs and the screen pass the Falcons have spoken so much about.
His ability to seal off blocks, creating holes for the backs to hit, is one of his best talents. Coming from Wisconsin, a school which is known for its power running game, Konz brings a certain toughness and attitude with him which could be the spark the offensive line needs.
Lamar Holmes, OT, Southern Mississippi (6-5, 323)
It’s clear that Lamar Holmes’ combination of size and speed makes him an intriguing pick. Holmes ran a 5.35 40-yard dash, which is acceptable for his weight. He’s considered somewhat of a project by some, but the expertise of offensive line coach Pat Hill should help bring Holmes along fine.
He displayed decent footwork while at Southern Miss and even though his range isn’t the best, he understands angles and how to use them to his advantage. If he is coachable, he could prove to be worthy of the investment.
Bradie Ewing, FB, Wisconsin (6-0, 239)
Bradie Ewing was another pick out of the hard-nosed Wisconsin offense. Ewing was brought in to transition from fullback Ovie Mughelli and compete with Mike Cox.
Ewing does well in run blocking and can also be a factor in the passing game as an option out of the backfield. Ewing will have an immediate shot to make an impact on special teams and could even earn early playing time with the first-team with a solid camp.
Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy (6-2, 264)
Jonathan Massaquoi’s biggest asset is his long arms, which allows him to minimize contact between him and offensive linemen. Although he is somewhat stiff in his stance and movements, Massaquoi has shown the ability to cover small areas of the field and has enough speed to get to the flats when needed.
Charles Mitchell, S, Mississippi State (5-11, 202)
Charles Mitchell was known for his consistency and hard hits during his time at Mississippi State. He piled up 95 tackles last season and played in every game during his four-year career at MSU, including 37 starts. He will battle for time at safety but has the talent to produce on special teams.
Travian Robertson, DT, South Carolina (6-4, 302)
Travian Robertson is a versatile defensive lineman who spent time at nearly every position on the line during his time at South Carolina. He is a natural nose guard, whose size and ability to beat the double team makes him an asset to anchor any defensive line.
The Undrafted Free Agents
Lamark Brown, TE, Minnesota-Mankato
Lamark Brown played receiver in college, but since the Falcons are set at that position, he was brought in as a tight end. With Tony Gonzalez hinting that 2012 will be his last season, it makes sense to start grooming younger guys at that position. Although he’s a little on the small side for tight ends, at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, he makes up for it with his 4.48 40-yard dash. Brown is tough to bring down after the catch and has large hands that help him make tough catches. He could be a nice addition at tight end, even potentially becoming a deep threat.
Michael Calvin, WR, California
Michael Calvin could be a perfect fit as a kick returner. Although there has been speculation of other players, such as receiver Harry Douglas, cornerback Dominique Franks or running back Jacquizz Rodgers, filling the role, Calvin could be another option. He’s actually a bit bigger than Douglas, as he is three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier. Yet his 40 time is listed at two-tenths of a second faster than Douglas’. He can play the slot-receiver role and makes great catches, although he periodically dropped the easy ones in college.
Rico Council, LB, Tennessee State
Rico Council led Tennessee State in tackles last year with 87 tackles and posted 3.5 sacks. He received the Tennessee State University Heart of a Tiger Courage Award as a sophomore and was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference second team as a junior.
Dominique Davis, QB, East Carolina
Dominique Davis is a mobile quarterback who completed nearly 70 percent of his passes his senior year at ECU. He would supply a change of pace for the offense should he ever need to play, yet is a solid passer making it so he doesn’t need a package tailored specifically to him to be successful.
Robbie Frey, RB, Kutztown
Robbie Frey is a smaller back who is deceptively fast. He spent three years at Connecticut before transferring to Kutztown for his final season. He led the team in rushing with 1,185 rushing yards on 189 carries last season. His size allows for him to absorb hits to gain the all-important yards after contact. He runs well between the tackles but he also does a great job at seeing opportunities to bounce outside.
Max Gruder, LB, Pittsburgh
Max Gruder is a linebacker who does a good job at penetrating and is also comfortable dropping back in coverage whenever needed. He averaged 8.9 tackles last season at Pitt, which ranked second in the Big East.
Bryce Harris, OT, Fresno State
The first thing that stands out about Bryce Harris is his size. He’s listed at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds which is perfect for an offensive lineman. Last season at Fresno State, he received First Team All-WAC honors, while being coached by new offensive line coach, Pat Hill, who’s known for instilling toughness into his college players. Having a familiarity with Harris will be a plus.
Jerrell Harris, LB, Alabama
Jerrell Harris was a starting linebacker for Alabama’s defense last year, which ranked first in the nation. Harris recorded 22 tackles for the Crimson Tide en route to winning the National Championship. He’s good at shedding blocks and finding the ball. He’s great in coverage and could be more than useful on special teams.
Josh Harris, LS, Auburn
Josh Harris can be a dependable option at long snapper, which is all that can be asked of a long snapper. He started at Auburn for the last three seasons.
Tyler Horn, OL, Miami
Tyler Horn is built like a prototypical lineman for guru Pat Hill to work with. He started the last 25 games of his college career in the ACC. So, his play on the national stage will only help to his transition to the NFL.
Marcus Jackson, WR, Lamar
Jackson is a great route runner who has a knack for getting open when the quarterback is scrambling. He has great hands and even better footwork. He’s not afraid to go over the middle and can be a legitimate deep threat.
Ray Kibble, DT, Kansas State
Ray Kibble is a 300-pound defensive lineman who not only has the size to take up space, but the speed to disrupt an offensive line. He accounted for 38 tackles as a senior at Kansas State.
Phillip Manley, OG, Toledo
Phillip Manley is listed at 309 pounds and started at guard for two years while at Toledo.
Marty Markett, CB, South Carolina
Marty Markett is a little undersized but was still one of the best corners at South Carolina last year. He may be small but has the speed to make up for it. Markett ran a 4.34 40-yard dash and he played in the rugged SEC.
Adam Nissley, TE, Central Florida
Adam Nissley was brought in as a blocking tight end. Nissley, a Cumming, Ga. native, had 38 receptions for 465 yards last season at Central Florida.
Lewis Nzegwu, DE, Wisconsin
Lewis Nzegwu is a polished defensive end who uses his hands well to get off of blocks, especially low ones. He is talented enough to handle most double teams and has the speed to get past a lot of offensive lineman. Nzegwu recorded at least three sacks in three of his four seasons at Wisconsin.
Micanor Regis, DT, Miami
Micanor Regis has a good first step and gets up the field well, which will help with penetration. He uses his hands well and doesn’t allow blockers to get to his inside. He posted 40-plus tackles the last two years at.
James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State
James Rodgers is the brother of Falcons’ running back Jacquizz Rodgers, and it shows on the field. The two are almost spitting images of each other in not only looks but in style of play as well. James could be of much use in the return game.
Pat Schiller, LB, Northern Illinois
I was fortunate enough to watch Pat Schiller play a few times while he was at Northern Illinois University. Schiller has a high motor and is all over the field. He has great play-making skills and does well in coverage. He led the Huskies with 115 tackles last season. He could be a great addition on special teams.
Peyton Thompson, CB, San Jose State
Peyton Thompson will remind most Falcons fans of Brent Grimes. He has great closing speed and has enough athleticism to be left alone in coverage. Thompson also has great decision-making skills, so it’s tough for opposing quarterbacks to fool him.
Dawson Zimmerman, P, Clemson
Dawson Zimmerman averaged 42.7 yards per punt during his last season at Clemson. Zimmerman will be a good addition for the sake of competition and will be able to push Bosher in camp.
Erik Folk, K, Washington
Erik Folk will provide camp competition for Matt Bryant. Folk ranks fourth on the Washington Huskies all-time field goal list.
Lee Meisner, FB, Colorado-Pueblo
Lee Meisner earned his training camp roster spot after a rookie minicamp tryout. He was an All American at Colorado-Pueblo and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Aron White, TE, Georgia
Aron White was signed after a tryout with the Falcons. He caught just nine passes last year at Georgia but four were touchdown catches.
Kenny Stafford, WR, Toledo
Kenny Stafford is another player signed after a tryout with the team. He caught 21 passes last season for Toledo and scored a touchdown. Stafford is the nephew of former NFL receiver Cris Carter.