FOX Sports wrote:
The team's offseason conditioning program was a wakeup call for S Bryan Scott and his sore left shoulder. Scott felt sharp twinges of pain as he attempted to lift weights late last month, and an MRI revealed torn cartilage sustained in a week 13 loss at Tampa Bay. He will spend the next three and a half months rehabbing, and he might not return until the start of camp. The timing is particularly poor for the team, which plans to move Scott from SS to FS in hopes of making better use of his talent in coverage. Coach Jim Mora says Scott is very good in space, which means his timing is impeccable as he closes on receivers who are about to make a catch. . . .
Scott's transition to a new position means Ronnie Heard, signed late last month as a free agent from the 49ers, is now the starting SS. Heard played under Mora in San Francisco, so the team is familiar with his strong run-stopping ability. Having Heard in place might allow the team to use a second- or third-round pick on a player who could claim the position by the end of September. . . .
FS Keion Carpenter, who will earn the minimum for the third straight year, moves to the top of depth chart as Scott recovers. The team loves Carpenter's leadership and coaching ability in the secondary. Mora also likes the knack Carpenter has for getting his hands on the ball.
SCOUTING REPORT: The offseason program is particularly important for DT Chad Lavalais, who replaces Ed Jasper as a starter. Lavalais' poor conditioning after his senior year at LSU caused him to drop as many as two rounds in the draft. A fifth-round pick for Atlanta, Lavalais showed immediate strength for shedding blocks and making tackles. He can learn a lot about improving as a pass rusher by watching the exceptional footwork of NT Rod Coleman, who starts alongside him. The team is very encouraged by Lavalais' perfect attendance in the offseason program and his willingness to adhere to proper nutrition.
COMEBACK STORY: Mora and G.M. Rich McKay insist that WR Peerless Price will open minicamp later this month as the starter. Price has declined interview requests, and Mora and McKay both say they know nothing about the corrective retinal procedure the player was supposed to undergo in February. The problem obviously affected his ability to catch passes because Price never adjusted to the glare created by his protective shield. What irritated some teammates, however, was Price's tendency to give in to frustration and break routes off prematurely. The team was able to hide Price's problems because of its success running the ball, but this offseason is critical for the six-year veteran, who must work on his timing with QB Michael Vick on deep balls and crossing routes.
This is good news, somewhat. I'm glad to see the team move Scott to FS. He's started for a season and a half and with the turnover we've seen at that position this off-season, he's the best candidate to be the leader of that unit, besides Carpenter.
Does this now mean that the Falcons will be looking for a strong run stopper in the draft? I really hope so.
However it is a shame that Scott will be out until mid-July at the earliest. I bet that is the main reason why the team retained Carpenter, since it felt much better heading into this season with him as the starting FS rather than a guy like Heard, McCadam, or Coady. I bet those 3 guys along with the rookie and Shabazz compete for 2 or 3 spots at SS. And it would seem its going to come down to special teams ability.
One hope I have is that Etric Pruitt steps it up, but I'm not holding my breath.
This is Price's final chance to make an impact in Atlanta. He will receive a sizeable roster bonus after the season and if he doesn't have a very productive year, I don't see the Falcons retaining him past this season. From my calculations, the team will save approx. $715,000 against the '06 cap if he's released next February.
I'm much more confident in Lavalais' ability to start now than I was a few months ago. My only concern at DT is improving that depth. Anthony Herron and Antwan Lake are nothing more than practice squad players. We need at least 2 bodies there that can push them off the depth chart.