Countdown to Camp: A look at the defensive line

With the opening of the Falcons' training camp just more than a week away, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will take a look at some key positions every day from now through July 26th. Today we examine the defensive line.

"Time is winding down," said Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, who's set to report with the rest of the team on July 25th and take the field for the first practice at 10:40 a.m. the following day.

Here's a look at the defensive line:

Key question: Can the defensive line create a better pass rush and get more sacks?

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan considers his schemes to be defensive end-friendly.

The 4-3 remains the base attack, but the Falcons will play some multiple fronts. Nolan will attempt to unleash defensive ends John Abraham, Ray Edwards and Kroy Biermann.

Last season, the Falcons posted 33 sacks, which tied for 19th in league. The Miami unit Nolan coached last season finished tied for 10th in sacks with 41.

Abraham led the Atlanta defense with 9.5 sacks.

Falcons coach Mike Smith has noted that the battle for the defensive tackle positions will be fierce. Defensive tackle Corey Peters missed most of the offseason with a foot injury. He and Babineaux likely will retain their starting spots. Peria Jerry, Vance Walker, Micanor Regis and Travian Robertson will fight for roles in the rotation.

Five goals for defensive line in 2012.

1. Get more sacks.

2. Get better interior penetration.

3. Get more production from Edwards.

4. Hold up against the run.

5. Create more turnovers.

Here's a look at the players along the defensive line:

Defensive tackles (6)Peria Jerry: Had a key forced fumble last season against Philadelphia. He finished with 10 tackles and one pass defensed.

Jonathan Babineaux: He turned in another solid season, while playing with a knee injury. He finished with 23 tackles, three tackles for losses, three passes defensed and one sack.

Corey Peters: Led all players at the tackle spot with 31 tackles in 2011. The severity of his offseason foot injury was not revealed. He's expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

Vance Walker: He could make a move and supplant Jerry as the third tackle. He had 22 tackles and three tackles for losses.

Travian Robertson: He was drafted in the seventh round and could provide some depth.

Micanor Regis: The former Miami Hurricane was signed as a free agent. He has nice size at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds.

Defensive ends (7) — John Abraham: He played nearly 75 percent of the snaps last season and returns to anchor the line. Abraham is the league's active leading sacker, with 112.

Ray Edwards: Defensive line coach Ray Hamilton was pleased with Edwards' play against the run. The Falcons are hoping that he recovers from knee surgery and is more explosive in 2012.

Kroy Biermann: He could benefit greatly from the new defensive scheme.

Lawrence Sidbury: He has shown that he can rush the passer in limited duty. He could contribute more to the special teams units.

Cliff Matthews: He was inactive for all 16 regular-season games in 2011.

Jonathan Massaquoi: The fifth-round pick from Troy University and Central Gwinnett High showed some big-play ability in college. He had 19.5 career sacks.

Louis Nzegwu: He played in 48 games and made 27 starts at Wisconsin. He had 11 career sacks.