Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith has used the word “multiplicity” over and over again this preseason. He preached it when pairing various offensive linemen together to find the best combination, and he's preached it in the context of the secondary.
The Falcons have three starting-caliber CBs -- Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel. The team acquired Samuel, the vocal 31-year-old, from Philadelphia for a seventh-round selection this offseason.
Grimes has played predominantly on the left side, Samuel's preferred position, and Robinson has played mostly on the right but has occasionally slid inside on nickel coverage, allowing Samuel to play on the right. All three have filled in with various rotations and with varying degrees of success.
When Samuel got burned on a 50-yard touchdown catch by Cincinnati's A.J. Green in the second quarter of Thursday's preseason game, he was playing left cornerback. Despite the mistake, Samuel clearly has a preference.
“Of course, that is where I made my living,” Samuel said to Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “All my production came from the left. It's a new thing for me switching back and forth, trying to get my mojo right. All is good. The coaches are doing what they think is best.”
Grimes and Robinson are listed ahead of Samuel on the team's official depth chart, which could turn into a sticky situation with the veteran corner left out of starting duties. If that were the case, it could legitimize Philadelphia coach Andy Reid's willingness to trade the former Pro-Bowler. Reid caused an offseason stir when he claimed that Samuel's production was in “steep decline.”
Although it seems like Samuel may be on the outside looking in, this is what coaches often refer to as a good problem.
“As we move closer to the start of the regular season, we'll be making that decision,” Smith said. “Again, I think it's to our advantage to keep that in-house in terms of how we want to deploy our corners.”
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