Nice form, JPW. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
You could sense the hunger.
In a pre-season game rendered even more meaningless than usual thanks to the Falcons sitting all of their starters, there was an opportunity for those on the roster bubble to prove their worth. Some were hungry like the wolf, like....well, Ryan Wolfe. Others pushed their plates away, like Brandyn Harvey.
Either way, this game is best viewed as a final opportunity for those who have held on through the first wave of training camp cuts. It didn't particularly matter if the Falcons won this game, and given that the team had its backups in the entire time against a similarly uncaring Jaguars squad, it's impossible to really tell how well they did as a whole. It was all about individual performance tonight, and the cuts will soon tell us if the coaching staff saw what we saw.
You guys are here for the recap, so I shall soldier on. After the jump, find my ruminations.
- Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson looked sharp out there, Redman to a much greater degree than JPW. I'm extremely comfortable having Rojohombre as our backup, and he did nothing to dispel his reputation as one of the better second options in the league.
- Antone Smith outperformed Dmitri Nance on the ground. Lost fumble aside, I think he's shown he's explosive enough to be a factor on offense. It just won't come if everyone else is healthy, and unless the Falcons are keeping four backs on the active roster, he's probably headed back to the practice squad.
- Speaking of Smith, his older and more well-established doppelganger had a great game, too. Jerious Norwood has come back looking determined to regain his old form, and thus far he's shown the kind of burst that made him such a Falcon fan favorite in years past. Here's hoping it continues into the season.
- Ryan Wolfe did his damage against the dregs of the Jags roster, but it was still impressive damage. Three catches for 55 yards, and each of them showed his ability to separate from cornerbacks. I think the final roster has been set for wide receiver, but Wolfe certainly didn't hurt his chances of winning a spot on the practice squad. Of course, Troy Bergeron and Andy Strickland also looked good....
- I don't mean to boast....ah, hell. I do mean to boast. I told you to watch Michael Palmer and he kicked ass. Glad we got that out of the way.
At this point, I'd be stunned if Palmer didn't make the final roster. He's been consistently good in practice, better in pre-season games and he offers a much more varied set of skills than Keith Zinger. The team may want to keep Zinger on the practice squad because of his blocking ability, but Palmer looks like he could be a diamond in the rough.
- Bear Woods made his case for a roster spot about as well as anyone could've expected. He led the team in tackles and picked up a sack, generally looking confident and scary as hell. It's not the circumstances you'd like it to happen under, but the injury to Spencer Adkins certainly means that Woods could make the final roster. If not, he'd damn well better be on the practice squad.
- Now that he's healthy, William "C4" Moore is showing why the Falcons spent a second round pick on him in 2009. He's fast, he's learning fast and he's justifying his reputation as a heavy hitter. With time, he should be able to catch Erik Coleman, though it probably won't happen in 2010.
- Give Matt Bryant credit. He didn't have to kick any long field goals, but he accounted for all of the Falcons' offense in this one and he nailed all three of his attempts. That's enough to save his job, and at this point we've got to believe in him. So let's believe.
- Michael Koenen is an awesome punter. Period.
- Goodnight, Brandyn Harvey. The pre-season favorite of many Falcoholics, yours truly included, failed to capitalize on his limited chances. Two dumb penalties almost certainly cost him a shot at the practice squad, so Harvey will go to ply his trade elsewhere. I do believe he has the talent to stick in the NFL, but not for the Falcons.
- Not that either of them played particularly poorly, but what are Sean Weatherspoon AND Stephen Nicholas doing in the game if they're not competing for a starting job? Weatherspoon kicked off the game, so it actually looks like he'll start over Nicholas. It's just conjecture, though, and I'm really hoping we have a clear answer on this soon.
- What else can you say against a game like this? Overall, the defense did pretty well, and the offense was less than stellar, but not horrible. We'll stop our lowlights here.
Game MVP: On hiatus this week, given the lack of importance in this game, but it would've gone to Chris Redman.
Game Theme Song: Congratulations to those who make the roster! Even if the song isn't really that cheerful.
One Thing To Take Away: We've got a pretty deep roster in 2010, judging by this game, even though not everyone's making it. That's awfully encouraging.
Final Word: Sure.