It's only a few days into camp, but the old adage "three's a crowd" has hardly been a factor for several teams who boosted their "nickel" coverage packages in the offseason, essentially with three starting-caliber cornerbacks. And that clearly has been the case with the Falcons. The addition of Asante Samuel to the tandem of Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes wasn't purposely intended to provide Atlanta with the potential to better match up with all the multiple-wide receiver looks presented by NFC West archrival New Orleans, but things certainly are shaping up that way. Said one Falcons' defender on Thursday: "We're better prepared now to go tit-for-tat with them, and that makes a difference." Despite a Philadelphia Inquirer note last week that suggested coach Andy Reid viewed Samuel as a player who was in decline, the Falcons' staff hasn't perceived any disturbing drop-off in the play of the four-time Pro Bowl defender in minicamps, OTAs or the opening days of camp. The nine-year veteran has always been a guy who gambled some that he could jump routes and make the big, game-altering play, and who sometimes got beat deep on double-move routes as a result. But he brings a swagger that was perhaps lacking in the Atlanta secondary, and he'll allow Robinson, an overpaid disappointment in his first two seasons with the club (even if Falcons' officials wouldn't admit it), to move to the slot in most situations. "It's a comfortable situation (playing inside)," Robinson said. "We play 'nickel' more than 50 percent anyway, so we're all starters. There's no ego involved."
- Dunta Robinson
- Asante Samuel