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Atlanta Falcons expecting position battles as camp opens up Thursday in Flowery Branch
0728Falcons
Atlanta Falcons linebacker Courtney Upshaw (91) works during a pass rushing drill during their practice on June 16 in Flowery Branch. - photo by John Bazemore

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    Date             Time                 Open to Public

Thursday    10 a.m.-noon                  Yes

Friday        10 a.m.-noon                   Yes

Saturday    10 a.m.-noon                   Yes

Sunday      10 a.m.-noon                   Yes

Sunday      10 a.m.-noon                   Yes

Tuesday     10 a.m.-noon                    Yes

Wednesday  10 a.m.-noon                  Yes

Aug. 4        10 a.m.-noon                   Yes

Aug. 5     7 p.m. at Grayson High        Yes

Aug. 7    10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.         Yes

Aug. 8        10 a.m.-noon                    Yes

Aug. 9       10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.      Yes

Aug. 10     10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.        Yes

Aug. 14       10 a.m.-noon                   Yes

Aug. 15       10 a.m.-noon                   Yes

Aug. 16       10 a.m.-noon                   Yes

FLOWERY BRANCH — There could be some last-minute additions to the Atlanta Falcons’ roster, possibly before Thursday’s opening of training camp.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn already believe they have a stronger roster after an 8-8 finish in Quinn’s 2015 debut. Quinn said he expects stiff competitions at several positions, including right guard, linebacker and tight end.

The release Tuesday of wide receiver and return specialist Devin Hester left the Falcons with 87 players. Following the move, Dimitroff said “there’s no major push” to reach the limit of 90 players. He said he’s still looking at free agent defensive end Dwight Freeney.

Quinn said he and Dimitroff also have discussed re-signing outside linebacker Brian Schofield.

The 29-year-old Schofield had 30 tackles and two sacks for Atlanta last season.

There already have been changes at linebacker. Second-year player Vic Beasley Jr. will play outside linebacker in the base defense and will be an edge rusher in nickel packages.

Rookies Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell and free-agent signees Courtney Upshaw, Sean Weatherspoon and LaRoy Reynolds are expected to add speed at linebacker. Jones, a second-round pick from Louisiana State, and Campbell, a fourth-rounder from Minnesota, earned compliments for the way he picked up the defense in the offseason.

Even Paul Worrilow, the team’s leading tackler each of the last three seasons, could be pushed by the new talent.

“We’ve been pleased with the progress of Jones and Campbell,” Quinn said Tuesday. “We’re going to have a battle on our hands with Worrilow and Spoon and Reynolds and some of the other guys.

“I love the speed we’ve added defensively. I can’t wait for that part of our game to come to life. It’s going to make differences in the way we rush, the style that we play. We’re probably going to play some more man to man, knowing we have the ability to do that.”

Quinn said Chris Chester will open camp as the starting right guard. Rookie Wes Schweitzer and Mike Person are other candidates. Tackle Tom Compton also will be given a look at guard.

Thanks to the signing of free-agent center Alex Mack, Quinn listed offensive line as one of the team’s strengths. That claim hasn’t been made by a Falcons coach in several seasons.

Quinn also likes his talent and depth at running back and tight end, where Devonta Freeman and Jacob Tamme, respectively, are the returning starters.

Freeman was a breakout star in 2015, when he rushed for 1,056 yards and had 73 catches for 578 yards. Second-year player Tevin Coleman could play a bigger role behind Freeman.

Tamme was third on the team, behind Julio Jones and Freeman, with 59 catches for 657 yards in 2015. Rookie Austin Hooper of Stanford will join Levine Toilolo and D.J. Tialavea in the competition with Tamme.

“I love our group of tight ends,” Quinn said. “I feel that’s for sure one (strength). We’ve got some big guys, we’ve got some pass-catchers.”

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