Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith has some big decisions to make in the next few days with rosters needing to be cut down to 75 players by Tuesday.
ATLANTA — The Falcons completed their training camp, but with two exhibition games to play, the competition for several roster spots remains fierce.
Several key battles will continue as the team scales back to one practice a day and settles into the routine it will carry into the regular season.
“As I said when we started camp, this is going to be the most competitive that we’ve ever had — well, at least since our first year — and I still believe there’s a lot of guys fighting for roster spots and fighting for jobs,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
The Falcons, per league rules, must cut down from 90 players to 75 players by Tuesday. The team must be down to the final 53-man roster by Aug. 31.
Here’s a look at how the roster is shaping up halfway through the exhibition season:
Quarterbacks (3 on roster on 2012 Opening Day)
Locks: Matt Ryan and Dominique Davis.
On the bubble: Sean Renfree.
Longshot: Seth Doege.
Davis appears to have locked up the No. 2 position, while Renfree is battling to make the roster or prove he’s worthy of being added to the practice squad.
“Dom did a nice job (last week against Baltimore),” Smith said. “He was very efficient. He had some good plays. I thought Dom showed improvement.”
Renfree had two chances late in the game to pull out the victory against the Ravens, who won 27-23.
“I thought Sean did a nice job,” Smith said.
Running backs (5)
Locks: Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Bradie Ewing.
On the bubble: Antone Smith.
Longshots: Josh Vaughan, Donald Russell, Ronnie Wingo, Patrick DiMarco and Davonte Campbell.
Jackson appears ready to roll to another 1,000-yard season.
Ewing has been out for three weeks with an undisclosed injury after missing all of last season following knee surgery. He’s been billed a rugged blocker who can add some lead-blocking punch to the rushing attack, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field.
Rodgers and Snelling provide quality depth and Smith is a special teams stalwart.
Locks: Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas and Drew Davis.
On the bubble: Kevin Cone and Marcus Jackson.
Longshots: Darius Johnson, Martell Moore, Marcus Sales, James Rodgers and Rashad Evans.
White and Jones likely won’t see the field together again until the season opener in New Orleans.
Jones has missed time with tight hamstrings and White suffered a slight ankle injury against Baltimore.
With Douglas, Davis and Cone, the Falcons might have the deepest receiving corps in the league. Davis and Cone, two former undrafted free agents, have developed nicely under assistant head coach/wide receivers Terry Robiskie.
Jackson could make a lot of NFL rosters and Johnson turned some heads with a strong showing against the Ravens.
Tight ends (3)
Locks: Tony Gonzalez, Chase Coffman and Levine Toilolo.
On the bubble: None.
Longshots: Andrew Szczerba, Colin Cloherty and Tim Biere.
Gonzalez is back from family leave after missing all but two days of training camp.
Coffman has been working on keeping his balance when blocking. Toilolo is also developing as blocker.
Offensive linemen (9)
Locks: Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Peter Konz, Garrett Reynolds and Lamar Holmes.
On the bubble: Ryan Schraeder, Joe Hawley, Harland Gunn and Phillipkeith Manley
Longshots: Terren Jones, Theo Goins, Jacques McClendon, Matt Smith, Alex Savoie and Jeff Nady.
Konz looks more comfortable as he takes over at center for the retired Todd McClure. The Falcons appear content on developing right tackle Holmes while keeping an eye out for veteran tackles league-wide who may be cut in the next two weeks.
Schraeder, who played at Valdosta State, is an intriguing tackle prospect.
The guard-center backup positions are unsettled. Look for a surprise winner here, perhaps Gunn.
Defensive linemen (10)
Locks: Osi Umenyiora, Corey Peters, Peria Jerry, Jonathan Babineaux, Kroy Biermann, Jonathan Massaquoi, Stansly Maponga, Malliciah Goodman.
On the bubble: Travian Robertson and Cliff Matthews.
Longshots: Brandon Thurmond, Micanor Regis, Neal Huynh and Cam Henderson.
Peters, Jerry and Babineaux have played together in the 3-4, with Biermann and Umenyiora as ends.
Massaquoi and Maponga have showed edge rushing ability.
Locks: Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent, Stephen Nicholas, Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu.
On the bubble: Robert James.
Longshots: Pat Schiller, Brian Banks and Nick Clancy.
Weatherspoon has been slowed by a dislocated finger on his left hand. Dent is looking more comfortable at middle linebacker in the 4-3 and as one of the inside backers when they line up in the 3-4.
Worrilow and Bartu, two undrafted free agents, appear headed for the 53-man roster.
Defensive backs (10)
Locks: Asante Samuel, Desmond Trufant, Thomas DeCoud, William Moore, Robert McClain and Robert Alford.
On the bubble: Dominique Franks, Shann Schillinger, Charles Mitchell, Zeke Motta and Kemal Ishmael.
Longshots: Peyton Thompson, Jordan Mabin, Terrence Johnson and Troy Sanders.
Trufant and Alford appear ready to make immediate contributions.
Most of the roster drama here revolves around the backup safeties and whether rookies Motta and Ishmael can unseat Schillinger and Mitchell.
Locks: P Matt Bosher, K Matt Bryant and LS Josh Harris
On the bubble: None.
Longshot: K Jeremy Shelley
Bosher has put together two spectacular exhibition games. He’s getting excellent hang-time, which will help a coverage unit that finished No. 11 in NFL net punting last season. The gutsy Bryant is still accurate and steady.