ATLANTA FALCONS (7-9)
CAMP SITE: Flowery Branch, Georgia
LAST YEAR: Atlanta won its last four games to save jobs of coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Second straight losing season adds pressure to make playoffs in 2020. Overhaul of roster began with cuts of running back Devonta Freeman and cornerback Desmond Trufant, who were let go to improve dismal salary-cap situation.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: RB Todd Gurley, OLB Dante Fowler, TE Hayden Hurst, WR Laquon Treadwell, OL Justin McCray, LB LaRoy Reynolds, TE Khari Lee, LB Edmond Robinson.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: Freeman, Trufant, LB De’Vondre Campbell, DE Vic Beasley, TE Austin Hooper, OG Wes Schweitzer, DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Jack Crawford, P Matt Bosher, SS Kemal Ishmael, DE Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Michael Bennett, TE Luke Stocker, OT Ty Sambrailo, TE coach Mike Mularkey.
PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: Training camp will be closed to fans. First couple weeks of practices expected to be unusually light. There have been no minicamps, but QB Matt Ryan spent time with Gurley in California. Ryan also has thrown to Hurst, who made strong impression with his athleticism.
CAMP NEEDS: Gurley's role must be determined as Falcons learn if he will be limited by chronic knee problems or able to handle true lead role. Defence must make up for lack of off-season time on field with new starters throughout. Ryan must develop chemistry with new targets, including Hurst and Treadwell.
EXPECTATIONS: Ryan is 35 and Jones is 31, so window closing soon on opportunity to take advantage of their leadership and skills. Quinn survived by shuffling staff and relinquishing control of defence last season. Now he needs to guide team back to playoffs. Another losing season could lead to Quinn's exit and an even more dramatic overhaul of roster.
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