Battle of the week - defensive tackle
BATTLE OF THE WEEK When rookie Chad Lavalais and Antwan Lake go at it, it's not for a starting job, but for an important one. They're battling to become the Falcons' No. 3 or No. 4 DT. Second-year pro Demetrin Veal's in this, too, but he missed most of the past week with a hamstring injury, and that hurt him. Lavalais, a fifth-rounder, is both quick and strong, although he's got a lot of tricks to learn. Lake, who played in nine games with the Lions as a rookie free agent in 2002, had an outstanding offseason and has continued to be impressive. OTHER BATTLE FRONTS Quincy Wilson and James Fenderson may be duking it out for the final RB roster spot, and it may come down to what they can do on special teams. Fenderson's had his moments, but is inconsistent. Wilson improved dramatically from week one to week two, and was mentioned by coach Jim Mora after the team's Aug. 7 scrimmage against Tennessee as someone who stood out. ... There was, and may still be, a fair share of skepticism within the Falcons' organization about the viability of FB George Layne, who's had some injury issues. But he's pushing Stanley Pritchett for the backup FB job behind Jason Griffith. PLAYER OF THE WEEK QB Matt Schaub. The rookie from Virginia has thrown the ball quite well, and continues to do a lot of little things that make it hard to believe that he is a rookie. His composure stands out. ROOKIE REPORT CB DeAngelo Hall - the team's first pick, No. 8 overall, joined the Falcons Aug. 3, and was thrown right into the fray as the No. 1 left CB. Although he struggled at times in five workouts this week with the Titans, several Tennessee players, including CB Samari Rolle and WR Derrick Mason, told Atlanta coach Jim Mora that Hall will be a very good player. ... WR Michael Jenkins - the team's second first-round pick, had another good week catching the ball, and he's shown willingness to block downfield. . . Schaub, a third-rounder, has been so good in practice that team observers believe he will surpass Ty Detmer for the No. 2 QB role before the season opener. ... OLB Demorrio Williams, a fourth-rounder, has been OK on defense, but really impressive on special teams. He nearly blocked two punts in practice against the Titans. ... DT Chad Lavalais spent much of the recent week as the Falcons' No. 1 NT, thanks to a knee injury to Ed Jasper. He's making the most of it, too. Having lost about 18 pounds in the past two month, he's moving quite well, and is stronger at the point of attack than coaches thought he might be. ... S Etric Pruitt, a sixth-rounder, has been neither a surprise, nor a disappointment. ... RB Quincy Wilson, a seventh-rounder, had a much better second week of training camp. He was one of a handful of young players, in fact, who stood out in an Aug. 7 scrimmage against the Titans, and coach Jim Mora cited his solid play afterward.