FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Asante Samuel says he doesn’t care if he starts at cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons.
His stance isn’t much different from Week 1 last year in Philadelphia after the Eagles acquired Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Even though he started all 14 of his games, Samuel was initially the odd man out. By October, with Philadelphia off to a poor start, he complained about management’s desire to reduce his role.
With the Falcons, the label of being a starting cornerback is somewhat less relevant. New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is likely to use more schemes with three cornerbacks and two linebackers than he deploys in the base 4-3 scheme with two cornerbacks and three linebackers.
“We all are competitors, so of course everybody wants to be out on the field as much as possible,” Samuel said on Thursday. “Like I always say, the coach is going to do the best thing to help the team win. You’ll see how it develops and how everything unfolds on Sunday.”
How it unfolds could factor heavily in the outcome when Atlanta opens the season at Kansas City.
Kansas City has potential game-changing playmakers in Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster, an eighth-year veteran in quarterback Matt Cassel and a stout offensive line.
Each team will debut a markedly different scheme this year, too, after the Falcons added Nolan as defensive coordinator and Chiefs hired Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator.
Samuel, now in his 10th NFL season, was acquired in April by Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who helped draft him for the New England Patriots in 2003.
Samuel went on to earn four Pro Bowl invitations. He spent the past four years in Philadelphia.
With the Falcons, Samuel plays mostly on the right side of the secondary. Brent Grimes starts on the left side, and Dunta Robinson, who started the past two years at right cornerback, will move inside to the slot in
At 31, Samuel says he likes where he’s at.
“I’m excited. Life goes on. I’m not in Philly any more. I’m a Falcon. Happy to be here. They embraced me well. The atmosphere is great. The team is great. The coaches are great, so I’m looking forward to going out and having a good season.”