0

Heavy competition expected in several spots on Falcons defense

May 4, 2013; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) participates in drills at Falcons Rookie Camp. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

May 4, 2013; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) participates in drills at Falcons Rookie Camp. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

photo

May 29, 2013; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora (90) during organized team activities at the Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

FLOWERY BRANCH -- The acquisition of veteran free agent Osi Umenyiora added another layer of depth at defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons.

That position is shaping up to be a hot spot of competition, but far from the only one.

"This is probably going to be the most competitive offseason that we've had since our first season," head coach Mike Smith said after the second day of OTAs in Flowery Branch on Wednesday. "Defensive back is one of the areas where there is going to be competition. Not only at the corner position, but at the safety position in the backup roles because of the way we addressed it in the draft."

First-round draft pick cornerback Desmond Trufant was one of just two players not there for this week's optional practices. Trufant will join the team after graduating from the University of Washington in two weeks.

"Obviously you'd like for him to be here," Smith said. "But the rules are the rules. He's going to be graduating and walking with his class, which is an important milestone in his life. I think it's a good rule."

Trufant, picked No. 22 overall, has been keeping up via video conferences.

"He's going to miss some opportunities on the field, but we've got a plan in place," Smith said. "Everyday what we put in, we're having a meeting with him as well. He's getting the mental part of it. It's just the physical part of it and the bonding part of being here with the rest of his teammates.

"But Desmond has been here for the rookie mini-camp. He comes from a line of football players. So he knows what it's all about. He's a very mature guy. We'll get him here as soon as the rules allow."

A number of rookies are learning the ropes at these workouts, which focused on the defense, but also included the offense Wednesday.

"It's really been nice to have the whole team out here," Smith said. "These last two days, through the first part of our offseason, the offense and the defense was separate. So we've never had them on the field together. This was really the first time we've had it.

"It was good to see how they stacked up, the rookies against the veterans."

One of the friendly battles was between Umenyiora and Central Gwinnett grad Jonathan Massaquoi, who both went to Troy. Umenyiora, a 10-year veteran with two Super Bowl rings, has taken an interest in many of the younger players.

"Osi, from the very beginning, has taken some of the young guys under his wing," Smith said. "Not just the defensive linemen, but some other positions as well. He's one of the first guys here in the building in terms of his workouts.

"Osi is easy-going off the field, but he plays with a lot of energy."

Smith enjoyed watching the vigorous competition he saw at OTAs.

"We've got a lot of guys that haven't played in the defense right now," Smith said. "We've got some guys that obviously aren't practicing, especially at the linebacker position. So we're getting some young guys that are getting an opportunity to play.

"I think there's going to be a lot of competition in certain areas on the defense, in the secondary. Those guys for two days they come out here and give an extreme effort. Their energy is outstanding."