Falcons have three open spots along offensive line

Falcons offensive guard Colby Gossett (66) runs a drill against offensive guard Justin Shaffer during the first day of training camp Wednesday in Flowery Branch. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Falcons offensive guard Colby Gossett (66) runs a drill against offensive guard Justin Shaffer during the first day of training camp Wednesday in Flowery Branch. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Drew Dalman opens up as No. 1 at center

FLOWERY BRANCH — There are three open spots on the offensive line, according to Falcons coach Arthur Smith.

“The expectation is when we pick up Chris (Lindstrom’s $13.2 million fifth-year) option and you pay Jake (Matthews), that those guys need to start,” Smith said Wednesday. “If they didn’t perform, then we have to look at our decision-making. It doesn’t mean they are set in stone, but the expectation is those two, for sure, should be starting for us. The rest of them are up for grabs.”

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The Falcons tried to rotate Drew Dalman and Matt Hennessy at center last season but scrapped the plan after a few games. They will rotate at the position in training camp.

“We want to make it fair and evaluate them,” Smith said. “It will be a fair competition. We have to make sure that we are intentional about the reps we give them and when we give them. Reps with the first group, with the second group. It’s got to be a fair competition.”

The Falcons also have openings at right tackle and left guard, where Kaleb McGary and Justin Mayfield started last season. Both were two of the poorly graded players at their positions by Pro Football Focus.

The Falcons are committed to taking as much time as they need to sort out the offensive line.

“I think you’d hope to get it sooner rather than later, but I’m not going to force it,” Smith said. “If the guys are neck and neck, you’ve got to let it play out.”

The competition should lead to some better depth.

“Certainly, you’ll like to have that chemistry, but just like it happens in the season, you are going to have to deal with injuries and guys that are flex guys that have to go play guard and swing back out to tackle, fine,” Smith said. “I’m not going to put a timeline on it.”

The Falcons also signed center/guard Jonotthan Harrison over the offseason after a tryout.

“He’s done it in real games,” Smith said. “He’s got every opportunity as well to compete for a job here.”

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