The Atlanta Falcons will be searching for the final piece of the offensive line charged with protecting Matt Ryan when they open their preseason schedule at the New York Jets.
Right guard is the only position on the line without a set starter Josh Gordon Browns Jersey , and that will be a key competition coach Dan Quinn will be watching closely in Friday night's game.
Decisions also have to be made at fullback and defensive end.
Protecting Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP with a new five-year contract extension that could be worth as much as $150 million, makes finding the best starting right guard a priority.
Wes Schweitzer was listed ahead of Brandon Fusco, perhaps Atlanta's top free-agent acquisition this offseason, at right guard on the team's first depth chart released this week. The two have rotated with the first-team offense during training camp.
Schweitzer's expected start against the Jets may be based on his 16 starts with Atlanta last season.
Fusco started all 16 games for San Francisco last season.
"I just want to build continuity with everyone, get comfortable with everyone and with this offense," Fusco said following Wednesday's practice.
"I miss the game-day feeling and will be excited when I'm out there. Hopefully it's enough to prove to them I can be the starter of this team at right guard and help this team win."
Schweitzer said this has been "the best camp I've ever had, definitely the best offensive camp I've ever been a part of. I feel we're really clicking right now and really pushing for it. It's just been a really good camp."
Ricky Ortiz is expected to start ahead of Luke McNitt at fullback. The remaining competitions on offense are for backup roles, including a third running back behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Candidates include rookie Ito Smith and Terrence Magee.
Coach Dan Quinn also is looking at tight ends competing behind projected starter Austin Hooper. Eric Saubert, a fifth-round pick in 2017 who had no catches as a rookie, has impressed the coach in camp.
"He's somebody who certainly has our attention at tight end http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-johnny-townsend-jersey ," Quinn said Wednesday.
"He's really turning into the pass-catching tight end that I'd hoped we would see. ... He's long, he's fast and I now see the athlete."
Quinn said Saubert (6-5, 253) is more confident in his second season. He said Saubert pressed as a rookie and "wasn't allowing himself to be the athlete that he is."
The Falcons did not re-sign tight end Levine Toilolo, who is now with Detroit. Veteran Logan Paulsen is best known for his blocking skills. That leaves an opening for Saubert to emerge as another target for quarterback Matt Ryan.
Saubert must do more than show his skills as a receiver. All players competing for backup spots, including at running back and tight end, must prove they can contribute on special teams.
Second-year defensive end Takkarist McKinley , trying to earn a starting role, is expected to play after being limited for about a week with a bruised right shoulder. McKinley returned for full participation on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"He was good," Quinn said. "What I was looking for, like with any guy, was there any hesitancy? He had none. So he responded the right way and was chomping at the bit to get back."
NOTES: LG Andy Levitre and his wife Authentic Leighton Vander Esch Jersey , Katie, who carried pink and blue balloons, had a unique baby gender reveal following practice. With players standing around the couple, Levitre held a sign that said "A Gatorade shower will let us see." Other offensive linemen poured two coolers filled with the blue sports drink over Levitre's head 鈥?so he and his wife are expecting a boy. Players then cheered. ... Quinn confirmed PK Matt Bryant (undisclosed injury) and OT Ty Sambrailo (right hand) will not play against the Jets. "We'll get them back into the fold next week," Quinn said.
鈥?Two of the New England Patriots’ most important players are getting healthier as they prepare to head to Minneapolis for Super Bowl week.After getting stitches in his right hand and thumb prior to the AFC championship game last week, quarterback Tom Brady was on the practice field Saturday, gripping the ball without a glove on his throwing hand. Tight end Rob Gronkowski also was at practice, returning to workouts after starting the week in the NFL’s concussion protocol.Both are positive signs for New England, which has just one practice remaining in Foxborough before the team heads to Minnesota to resume its Super Bowl preparations. Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, who also missed practice time this week with a concussion, joined Gronk in the team stretching period that is open to reporters.Gronkowski hadn’t been on the practice field since his second-quarter exit from the AFC title game following a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church.“It’s always great to have him out there. He’s a great player 49ers Cassius Marsh Jersey , a great person, a great teammate and a big part of what we do,” Brady said of Gronkowski. “It obviously hurts when he’s not out there for a lot of reasons. But he’s doing the best he can do and we’re all hopeful.”While Gronkowski and Wise were on the field, it’s unclear whether they have been officially cleared from the protocol. The team isn’t required to file its next injury report until Wednesday.Gronk played just eight games last season and missed the Patriots’ entire playoff run after undergoing season-ending back surgery.Since the start of last season, New England is 12-1 without Gronk. But last season it had Martellus Bennett to fill in the gap without him. Bennett signed with Green Bay in the offseason, before being released by the Packers in November. He then re-signed with the Patriots, but only appeared in two games before being placed on season-ending injured reserve.Brady said he wants to spend the rest of the time leading up to the Super Bowl avoiding all possible distractions.That includes not talking about a new series that debuted on Facebook recently and provides viewers a rare glimpse at his life off the field.“What? Let’s talk about distractions,” Brady joked when he was asked about the series Saturday. “We’ll stick to football this week, too. I like that no distractions part.”Though this will be Brady’s eighth trip to the Super Bowl, the 40-year-old said he still has an appreciation for what it takes to be playing at this point of the season.“I’ve never taken anything like this for granted, and I think we’re all very fortunate to be in this game Raiders Authentic Jerseys ,” he said. “Being a part of a couple of these losses, those are pretty tough to swallow, but I think you realize how much effort you have to put in to prepare. It’s a very unique environment, unique game, and you have to be at your best. But in order to do that, you have to prepare as well as you possibly can.”.