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Veteran offensive lineman Chris Chester could return as a reserve in 2016

The Falcons need a better option at guard to protect Matt Ryan, but it doesn't mean Chris Chester could not have a role on the Falcons in 2016.

The Falcons signed offensive guard Chris Chester on May 30 after he was released by the Washington Redskins. Chester had played for Falcons’ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, so Chester was familiar with Shanahan’s preferred zone blocking scheme for the offensive line.

Chester was not always healthy. In fact, reports have him facing shoulder surgery now that the season is over. But Chester did start all 16 games at offensive guard. Particularly early on in the season, when the offensive line played well, Chester was a vital part of a line that was very new and had to learn to play together very quickly early in 2015.

Chester had a 77.2 grade from Pro Football Focus. He was solid in run blocking, but Chester struggled as a pass blocker. Chester allowed 34 total pressures, which is way too many. Chester was graded a bit better than fellow guard Andy Levitre, but both guards had too much of a gap between their success in run blocking and their weakness in protecting quarterback Matt Ryan.

It’s doubtful another team would pay Chester big money as a free agent. He just turned 33 years old, so his future is likely as a reserve. Chester has started every game in the last five seasons, so how much gas does he have left in the tank as a starter?

Chester is good, but the Falcons need to do better. They’ll likely look around for a better option as the starting guard. But it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to bring Chester back. He could be a valuable veteran that could slide in as a reserve considering his familiarity with the zone blocking scheme.

As long as his shoulder checks out, it’s likely Chester could be a late-spring signing for the Falcons. He served a purpose in 2015, and there could be a role for him on this team in 2016. But it will more than likely be as a key backup compared to the starting role he’s enjoyed for many years in the NFL. If another team promises Chester more playing time, he may bolt. But the Falcons must simply get better, and it make come at the expense of Chester’s streak of games started.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.


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