It doesn't look like he will ever become the top-tier pass rusher the Falcons thought they were getting in the 2007 draft, but the team still seems confident that Jamaal Anderson can be a very useful piece on the defensive line. As he did at times last season, Anderson will move from defensive end to tackle in Atlanta's nickel package in 2010, and word is he's having a strong training camp.
Anderson — the eighth overall pick in '07 — has started all 44 games he's played for the Falcons. He has made only 2½ sacks in his career, though. It has been a disappointing three seasons for Anderson, but head coach Mike Smith quickly put an end to the speculation that Anderson would be on the roster bubble. Smith said he intended for Anderson to start at left end at the outset of camp and has been encouraged by Anderson's performance since then.
"I think Jamaal has been a very consistent player for us," Smith said on Aug. 11. "I think he is embracing his role as a defensive tackle in our sub package. I think he is going to be more productive this year at the defensive tackle position.
"He has done what we've asked in terms of changing his body a little bit. He has put on over 20 pounds from the end of the season last year. I think that it is going to help him when he plays inside."
Atlanta has second-year DT Peria Jerry, a first-round pick in '09, returning from injury and spent a third-round pick on DT Corey Peters this year. DT Jonathan Babineaux will be a starter in Week Two after he returns from a one-game suspension, so there will be plenty of competition for playing time at tackle. The Falcons will have some hard decisions to make on how to distribute reps at the position, but Smith has said he's committed to using a deep rotation or seven or eight players on the defensive line.
Anderson will clear the way for Kroy Biermann or Lawrence Sidbury to take snaps at end when he moves inside. The Falcons are optimistic that Biermann, who made five sacks last season, and Sidbury, a fourth-round pick in '09, will be quality complements to DE John Abraham.
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