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Falcons Camp: Open Practice Shows Step-Up Need From 2 Young DLs

Young defensive players Marlon Davidson and John Cominsky didn't stand out at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.

Dante Fowler has dominated the Atlanta Falcons radio waves and water cooler discussions. That's what happens when a player signs for $23 million guaranteed contract and records 3.0 sacks.

But while Fowler is the latest scapegoat for Atlanta's pass rushing woes, there is plenty of blame to go around the defense. 

The Falcons haven't emphasized their pass rush early in recent drafts, and that's a big part of the problem. However, the Falcons did select defensive ends Marlon Davidson during the 2020 second round and John Cominsky in the 2019 fourth round.

The 6-foot-3 and 300-pound Davidson did not make the impact a lot of draft experts said he could as a rookie. He appeared in eight games without making a start and posted 8 combined tackles and 1 pass defense. Davidson had zero sacks.

Last year was tough on all of us. It was particularly difficult for NFL rookies. They were forced to learn remotely and didn't have a preseason to prepare for their first NFL campaign.

Maybe that's partially why Davidson left the Falcons underwhelmed. However, he didn't look too much better in the team's final open training camp practice Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Towards the end of practice, Davidson played in the middle of the line on the second-team defense. On one play, he disrupted a rushing attempt to his side. Davidson appeared to push his blocker into the ball carrier, and the rest of the defense cleaned up the play.

But on two other plays during that series, including one third-and-long opportunity, the offensive line pushed Davidson to the ground. He didn't come close to pressuring the quarterback.

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Cominsky wasn't too involved Saturday either. Other than maybe causing an offensive lineman to false start, Cominsky didn't standout.

As a fourth-round pick, Cominsky doesn't have as high of expectations. He was considered a project out of college, which is why he became a fourth-round pick.

But 39 total tackles with 1.5 sacks in two NFL seasons is a sign the project isn't working out.

There's still time for Davidson and Cominsky. Both of these players are younger than 26. Davidson, who again, is going through his first real NFL offseason, is only 23. 

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A few plays and even one practice also doesn't tell the whole story. Saturday was the first chance I received to see either Davidson or Cominsky in person this year. Hopefully they've done better on other days.

Still, the clock is ticking for these young pass rushers. New general manager Terry Fontenot didn't draft either player. NFL fans know what that means. 

It may be "produce-or-be-gone'' for both Davidson and Cominsky this season.

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