The NFL is a league where cloak and dagger isn't just a practice, it's the rule. If coaches could dress their players like ninjas and ban anyone who wasn't blind, deaf and dumb from watching them practice, you can bet they would do it.
So it's an ongoing source of wonder to me that the Falcons hold practices with teams they're going to be playing against in the pre-season. During the Mike Smith era, the Falcons have repeatedly matched up with the Jaguars and even the Patriots, a team that makes the CIA seem forthright. I doubt our beloved Birds are gleaning anything useful from these practices beyond a little live contact with non-teammates, but there's something inherently cool about it.
The practice is closed to the public, so we'll have to live with the (likely dull) reports that come out of it afterward. It's still refreshing to see two teams get together and practice, especially when at least one of the coaches involved treats injury reports like a classified document.
My rambling for the day is done. After the jump, find a few notes on the depth chart for Friday night's game. Most of them are for likely backup Falcons, so prepare to be excited.
Garrett Reynolds Starting Again
As expected, Reynolds will be starting the game. Paradoxically, that ought to give Mike Johnson a lot more time on the field Friday night.
That's simply because starters don't play that long in pre-season games, even if they're offensive linemen. So Reynolds will get a chance to display those run-blocking chops again, while Johnson will get an extended look against the backups. It's not an ideal situation in which to show you're an elite blocker, but Johnson needs to make up ground and has the ability to manhandle middling defensive linemen.
You'll want to watch this one closely.
Jacquizz Rodgers Fifth On RB Depth Chart
If there's one thing on this depth chart that has pushed my eyebrows skyward before each of the last two games, it's been where Rodgers is running. Fifth behind Gartrell Johnson and Antone Smith is a very interesting spot.
What gives? I've made the argument that the Falcons probably want to see whether Johnson or Smith is worth keeping around as a fourth back, and I stand by that. It's also worth noting that Rodgers is still learning the offense, having missed out on the playbook derby before the lockout came crashing back down.
But fifth? Shoot, the dude will be running against third-stringers. It's tough to gauge a dynamic back's talent level against the dregs of an opposing roster. Once the Falcons have made a decision on Johnson/Smith, Quizz will probably get a bigger role.
Tim Buckley Sticks
It's a pre-season depth chart, and I've repeatedly warned you all not to read too much into it. Do as I say, not as I do.
The team has juggled guys like Tim Buckley, Andy Strickland and Brandyn Harvey around over the last year or so. All three have held down practice squad posts at different points. Out of all of them, Harvey would seem to have the most talent at receiver, but Strickland and Buckley seem more likely to have special teams value.
Still, though. What is Buckley doing above Harvey on the depth chart? Harvey looked sharp in the Miami game, and by all accounts looked as good or better than Buckley during training camp. Both are behind Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier and probably Eric Weems, but it's interesting.
Chalk it up to a quirk of the coaching staff's pre-season approach until Buckley shows something.
Robert James Running Behind Spencer Adkins
I wanted to point this one out because so many people bust on Adkins for showing nothing in his time with the team. My response? Sure, he hasn't done anything, but he's done about as much as Robert James, who has the added distinction of being suspended for testing positive for PEDs.
The Falcons likely won't carry more than four pure outside linebackers—Akeem Dent is a bit of a hybrid in my mind—and Stephen Nicholas, Mike Peterson and Sean Weatherspoon are locked in. It's likely to be a dogfight for that last spot, and it appears Adkins is winning thus far. Appears.
What else caught your eye on the depth chart? Let us know!