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Falcons face decisions on starting O-linemen

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Feb. 26, 2011 @ 4:41 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

While the Falcons will be looking for speed, perhaps at receiver and defensive end, in this year's draft, GM Thomas Dimitroff and his staff are probably also keeping a close eye on offensive linemen at the Scouting Combine.

The Falcons decided not to use the franchise tag on any of their potential free agents, so three starters on the offensive line — OLG Justin Blalock, ORG Harvey Dahl and ORT Tyson Clabo — could become unrestricted free agents this offseason. Some pegged Clabo, who made the Pro Bowl in 2010, as a candidate for the tag. His salary would have been about $10 million in 2011 with the tag, and while the Falcons would like to have Clabo back, they opted not to pay that steep price for one year of service.

In the past two drafts, Atlanta has spent three picks in the middle rounds on O-linemen — OT Garrett Reynolds, OG Mike Johnson and OG Joe Hawley — but those players might not be ready to step into a starting role. Protecting the face of the franchise, QB Matt Ryan, is something Dimitroff is very mindful of and he has decisions to make when it comes to the O-linemen blocking for Ryan in 2011.

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