Atlanta Falcons positon preview: Offensive line

The Atlanta Falcons begin training camp July 31 at their home facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

Leading up to the start of camp, we'll take a look at the team, position by position. We started with the quarterbacks and followed with the running backs. Now, we move on to the offensive line.

The cast: Jake Matthews (2nd season), Chris Chester (10th season), Joe Hawley (6th season), Mike Person (7th season), Jon Asamoah (6th season), Ryan Schraeder (3rd season), Lamar Holmes (4th season), Tyler Polumbus (9th season), Peter Konz (3rd season), James Stone (2nd season), Harland Gunn (3rd season), Jared Smith (2nd season), Adam Replogle (2nd season), Jake Rodgers (1st season), Valerian Ume-Ezeoke (1st season), Matt Huffer (1st season), Eric Lefeld (1st season).

2015 cap numbers: Asamoah ($4,236,750), Hawley ($4,000,000), Matthews ($3,733,977), Chester ($2,800,000), Holmes ($1,675,400), Konz ($1,141,827), Person ($911,666), Polumbus ($665,000), Gunn ($660,000), Schraeder ($585,667), Stone ($511,333), Rodgers ($452,954), Ume-Ezeoke ($436,000), Replogle ($435,000), Huffer ($435,000), Smith ($435,000), Lefeld ($435,000).

The coach: Chris Morgan (1st season with team)

Key number: The Falcons have had 10 different starting offensive line combinations over the past two seasons.

For starters: The Falcons seem likely to go with a starting lineup that includes Matthews at left tackle, Chester at left guard, Hawley at center, Asamoah at right guard, and Schraeder at right tackle. The biggest question going into training camp is will such a combination be healthy enough to develop chemistry going into the season? Both Hawley and Matthews are coming off major surgeries. Hawley, who tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee in Week 4 of last season, told ESPN.com he expects to be a full go for training camp. At the same time, Hawley cautioned how the final decision would depend on his meeting with the doctors prior to camp. Matthews had January surgery to repair a Lisfranc ligament tear in his foot. Like Hawley, Matthews didn't participate much during the offseason, but the coaches obviously want to make sure both players are fresh for the regular season. Asamoah was limited this offseason by an ankle injury, and there's some concern about his ability to get out and run in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's outside-zone blocking scheme. As for Schraeder, he is quietly developing into a solid all-around player. Chester has 111 career starts from his time with the Ravens and Redskins, and him playing under Shanahan in Washington gives the Falcons an experienced lineman familiar with the scheme.

Backup plan: The season-ending injuries suffered by Hawley, Holmes, Konz, and Sam Baker a year ago emphasize the importance of having capable backups. Baker, a former starter and first-round draft pick, is no longer in the mix after being released. The new coaching staff also cut ties with last year's starting right guard, Justin Blalock. So, the Falcons might have to rely on guys such as Stone, Konz, and Polumbus this season if injuries occur. Holmes would be in that mix as well, but he had a poor offseason during which he got demoted. Then Holmes suffered a broken foot, so he's on the outside of the roster bubble looking in. If a capable offensive tackle gets released somewhere, it would be wise for the Falcons to at least investigate the situation. And if they don't feel content with the depth at guard, Pro Bowler Evan Mathis remains out there, ready to be taken for the right price. If Mathis is in the Falcons' plans, then a player such as Asamoah or Chester could find himself in a different role.

Thursday: Wide receivers