ATLANTA FALCONS (7-9)
OPEN CAMP: July 22, Flowery Branch, Georgia
LAST YEAR: Atlanta closed season with three straight wins that came far too late to save lost season. Coach Dan Quinn didn't use crushing wave of injuries as excuse for disappointing season. Atlanta lost its starting safeties and guards, running back Devonta Freeman and linebacker Deion Jones to injuries. After firing all three coordinators, Quinn is facing pressure to take Falcons back to playoffs.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: OGs James Carpenter and Jamon Brown, DEs Chris Odom and Adrian Clayborn, Ss J.J. Wilcox, Chris Cooper, and Afolabi Laguda, DT Tyeler Davison, OT John Wetzel, RB Tony Brooks-James, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, tight ends coach Mike Mularkey.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: RB Tevin Coleman, CB Robert Alford, OT Ryan Schraeder, PK Matt Bryant, DE Brooks Reed and Derrick Shelby, OGs Brandon Fusco and Andy Levitre, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian, defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.
CAMP NEEDS: Safeties Ricardo Allen (torn Achilles tendon) and Keanu Neal (knee), RB Freeman (groin) and LB Jones (foot) need to show they have recovered from 2018 injuries. Jones was watched carefully in minicamp even after coming off IR for end of last season. Rookies Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary will have every opportunity to form new right side of offensive line and prove they deserved to be first-round picks. Team needs to avoid possible distraction in efforts to reach agreement on new deal with WR Julio Jones.
EXPECTATIONS: Freeman's health is crucial to hopes for big season. Offense that includes receivers Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley could be tough to stop. Quarterback Matt Ryan's 2018 numbers were very close to his 2016 MVP excellence, despite 42 sacks, second-highest total of his career. Ryan is 34, and if major offseason commitment to improving offensive line doesn't pay off, window to take advantage of his skills could soon close. Quinn has taken over defense as he aims for playoffs.