Questions abound about the defense

Just where do we start? There are so many questions with the Atlanta defense and plenty of time for the coaches to figure it all out. Bill Shanks has more.

Have we ever had an offseason that created as many questions for the Atlanta Falcons than this one? I can't remember one. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but the new players and new defensive scheme have many anxious to see the team on the field in August.

In fact, this August could be the most interesting preseason since Mike Smith's first one as a head coach. The intrigue will be mainly on defense, since the offense is much more settled.

Here are just some of the questions we will ponder over the next couple of months, before the Falcons start the season against the Saints on September 7.

1) Can new defensive tackle Paul Soliai stop the opponent's running game?
2) Will Tyson Jackson provide a pass rush, or simply be another run stopper?
3) Should we expect Ra'Shede Hagemen to start?
4) What is Jonathan Babineaux's role on this team?
5) Which backup defensive lineman should be counted on? 6) How will defensive coordinator Mike Nolan utilize Kroy Biermann?
7) If Biermann and Jonathan Massaquoi scoot up on the line, will a 5-man front work?
8) Are Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu ready to have a bigger role?
9) Is Akeem Dent a potential salary casualty in August?
10) Is Osi Umeniora a potential salary casualty in August?
11) Which rookie linebacker will make the largest contribution?
12) Are Alford and Trufant ready for a larger role?
13) Can Dwight Lowery be better than Thomas Decoud?
14) Will Dez Southward push Lowery?
15) Is William Moore the new leader of the defense?
16) Who will be the nickel – Robert McClain or Javier Arenas?
17) What defensive backups can step up?
18) Will Sean Weatherspoon be missed?
19) Will Bryan Cox make a difference as the new DL coach?
20) Will the Falcons make any addition before training camp?

That's just on defense. But that's enough questions to worry about for a while. It doesn't mean the answers are going to be hard to find, but it just shows the number of issues on defense as the Falcons prepare for the upcoming season.

Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at Follow Bill at and e-mail him at Recommended Stories

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