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Three Key Matchups In The Falcons-Dolphins Pre-Season Game

Sure, it's meaningless. But it's a meaningful sort of meaningless.

There are starting jobs and roster spots at stake, after all. Falcons scrabbling to keep their roles or gain new ones will be playing against those higher on the depth chart as much as they will be against the Dolphins. That makes this one worth watching. As does the fact that it's actual football, of course.

So I present to you three matchups. Given that the game has very little meaning outside of position battles, I'm paring my usual four down to tres for it. I hope that it still tastes great, even though it's less filling.

Hit the jump with me to find out which matchups I'm gazing at. Oh, and be sure to check out our counterparts at the frenetic The Phinsider.

Falcons Front Seven vs. Daniel Thomas/Reggie Bush

This game is actually going to be an excellent warmup for the front seven, who were consistently good against the run in 2011. The Dolphins may not be fielding the best set of backs in the league, but there's considerable talent here.

Start with Daniel Thomas. If you want to get a sense of his running style, picture Michael Turner. He's not at that level yet, but he runs with the same kind of power and explosion that defines Turner's best games. Unlike Turner, he's also proving to be a capable receiver out of the backfield. He's one of my sleeper picks for Rookie of the Year.

We all know Reggie Bush, of course. He gives the defense a vastly different look, being speedy, elusive and generally a huge pain in the ass. Bush will be used as a receiver out of the backfield as often as he runs, which is a good test for a Falcons team that hasn't always done well against passes out in the flats.

Of course, the Falcons are bringing a ton of run-stopping talent to the mix. Corey Peters, Kroy Biermann, Jon Babineaux, Curtis Lofton and Mike Peterson are the stuff of nightmares for running backs. It'll be fun to see how this one plays out.

Matt Ryan And His Merry Receivers vs. Dolphins Secondary

The Dolphins' secondary isn't the best in the league by any stretch of the imagination. There are, however, some talented young players to look out for.

Sean Smith and Vontae Davis spring readily to mind. The Dolphins made physical cornerback play a priority by drafting the enormous Smith (6'3") and the talented Davis. Neither has truly lived up to their potential yet, but both are young and present tough matchups for Roddy White and Julio Jones.

Heck, even the second stringers are going to be trouble. Will Allen and Nolan Carroll aren't exactly slouches, so it'll be interesting to see how some of our guys duking it out for a roster spot hold up. Yeremiah Bell and Chris Clemons aren't spectacular, either, but they're solid.

So the Falcons will get to try out their high octane passing game against a competent secondary. It's not the Eagles, but it'll do for a start.

Falcons Special Teams vs. Davone Bess

This wouldn't be as compelling if the Falcons weren't trying out a rookie punter. But Matt Bosher is coming into the pre-season with a lot to prove, filling the shoes of departed multi-million dollar man Michael Koenen.

The Dolphins offer a good test for the team's special teams coverage in general. Davone Bess is a potentially deadly returner, and their coverage is generally above average. Of course, that's assuming Bess returns kicks. Apparently, Tony Sparano is a little crazy. 

So there's my three matchups. What will you be watching out for?