After last season, the Falcons concluded that they needed to improve their play at the nickel back position.
Over the offseason, they signed former Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson and former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Javier Arenas to come in and compete for the job with incumbent Robert McClain.
It was one of the heated battles during training camp. Wilson started out with the first team. Arenas made a move to claim the spot, but McClain came on strong to win the spot. He opened the game against the New Orleans Saints as the nickel back.
With the Saints threatening to score, McClain stepped in front of a pass intended for Brandin Cooks in the end zone and made an interception.
“I was able to drop underneath him and get my hands on it,” McClain said. “I just want to be able to get my hands on more balls.”
McClain has been in a battle to hold the nickel for the past two seasons.
“Nobody knew me when I first came,” McClain said. “Nobody knew me when I was first in the league, but that’s part of football, competing. I’ve been an undersized guy always competing for everything. It’s nothing new. That’s part of football. It’s a business.”
McClain said he didn’t get dejected when the team signed to veterans at his spot. Wilson played in the game, but Arenas was inactive.
“They want to put the best guy out there and my job is to go out there and compete for the spot,” McClain said. “If somebody else was going to win it, I would just play my role.”
McClain was humble about making a play on Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
“He knows exactly where everybody is at,” McClain said. “He’s not afraid to throw the ball anywhere. He’s a great quarterback. They have a great offense.”
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