Atlanta Falcons position preview: defensive backs

The Atlanta Falcons begin training camp Friday 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, offensive line, wide receivers, tight ends, defensive line and linebackers.

Now, we'll look at the defensive backs.

The cast: FS Charles Godfrey (ninth season), SS William Moore (seventh season), CB Phillip Adams (seventh season), CB Desmond Trufant (third season), CB Robert Alford (third season), SS Kemal Ishmael (third season), S Sean Baker (third season), FS Ricardo Allen (second season), CB Dezmen Southward (second season), CB Jalen Collins (first season), CB/S Akeem King (first season), S Damian Parms (first season), CB Jonathon Mincy (first season), CB Kevin White (first season), S Robenson Therezie (first season), CB Michael Lee (first season), CB Terell Floyd (first season).

2015 cap numbers: Moore ($5,368,750), Trufant ($2,227,117), Godfrey ($1,137,500), Collins ($986,879), Alford ($927,654), Southward ($737,373), Ishmael ($596,474), Adams ($585,000), Baker ($510,000), King ($488,195), Parms ($436,000), White ($435,000), Lee ($435,000), Floyd ($435,000), Mincy ($435,000), Therezie ($435,000).

The coach: Marquand Manuel (first season with team).

Key number: Trufant has 33 passes defensed over his first two NFL seasons to go with five interceptions.

For starters: The Falcons have the makings of a fierce cornerback trio in Trufant, Alford and the rookie Collins. Trufant has showed signs of being a true shutdown corner and should take another step under the tutelage of Manuel, a hands-on coach who played eight NFL seasons as a defensive back. Trufant definitely has confidence in his ability, and believes he's among the NFL's elite. As for Alford, he seems fully recovered from last year's season-ending wrist injury and had a spectacular offseason. He'll enter training camp intent on showing the coaches he can play outside in this scheme despite being a little shorter (5-foot-10) than what head coach Dan Quinn desires in his cornerbacks. The 6-1, 203-pound Collins has the length and speed to excel as a press corner, but his progress this offseason was limited coming off foot surgery. With as much time as defenses spend in the nickel package, the Falcons essentially need three starting-caliber players such as Trufant, Alford and Collins. At strong safety, Moore not only has to provide leadership as a veteran, he also needs to stay on the field coming off major shoulder surgery. During camp, he'll have to adjust to a new face next to him in Allen, who surprisingly emerged at free safety. He might not be the long-term solution, but Allen has made a smooth transition from cornerback thus far.

Backup plan: Ishmael is the forgotten man in the safety equation, but he shouldn't be. He led the team with four interceptions last season -- including one returned 23 yards for a touchdown -- and is one of the team's better tacklers. If Ishmael was more of a free safety type, he'd be right in the starting lineup next to Moore. Since Ishmael is better suited as an in-the-box-type safety, he'll have to settle for a reserve role for now. But he'll get opportunities, for sure. The veteran Godfrey was penciled in as the starting free safety going into the offseason but was surpassed by Allen. One has to wonder if he'll even have a spot on the team now. Maybe the rookie King, listed now at cornerback, will revert to his college days and end up providing depth at safety. Adams appears to be a solid, low-cost offseason addition as a player capable of filling in at cornerback, particularly at nickelback. Southward made the move from safety to corner, then was sidelined by knee surgery after previously having wrist surgery. On the field, he has to play a lot tougher to keep a roster spot.

Tuesday: Specialists