As you well know, there’s only so much we can glean from a single preseason game, especially when that game is the first one. About all we can do is take a hard look at who got playing time, how they fared, and what it might mean going forward.
Enter our bubble watch, which we’ve been rolling through position-by-position to this point. Today, we’re going to look at players who helped or hurt their roster spot causes with their performances in the first game against Washington.
Who helped their cause
WR J.D. McKissic
He’s done well in camp to this point, but the best punt return of the night and a thrilling 101 yard kickoff return for a touchdown certainly helps. He’s going to have to sneak on board as the fifth or sixth receiver and/or kick and punt returner to make it, but it’s certainly possible.
DE Ivan McLennan
He was one of my big sleeper picks for a roster spot, but the signing of Dwight Freeney could wind up pushing him off the roster entirely. Still, he’s looked fast and physical (TM) throughout the offseason thus far, and his game-sealing sack was pretty terrific. He’s got an outside shot, at least.
RB Brandon Wilds
On a night where neither Wilds or Gus Johnson were truly excellent, Wilds got off to a hot start, scored a one yard touchdown, and showed a little shiftiness early. He, Ward, and Johnson should be battling throughout the rest of August to determine who gets the third spot, so building on this performance could give Wilds a leg up.
CB C.J. Goodwin
Expectations were exceedingly low in most quarters for Goodwin when it was announced he’d transition from wide receiver to cornerback, so he’s exceeded them by a country mile thus far. He wasn’t great against Washington and was helped by a drop, but with nobody behind Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford standing out early and with Jalen Collins out for the first four games, don’t be stunned if Goodwin hangs on.
Who hurt their cause
K Nick Rose
You more or less need to be perfect to beat out Matt Bryant. The Falcons only brought in Rose to compete this offseason, and while he’s got a strong leg, his missed 39 yard field goal against Washington is probably all it’ll take to ensure the team sticks with Bryant another year.
QB Matt Simms
When your competition is an ancient Matt Schaub and Sean Renfree, who hasn’t stood out in his time with Atlanta, you’ve got a shot to show something. Simms didn’t with his arm, going 0⁄3 against deep backups, though he did rush twice for 17 yards. At best, he’ll be on the practice squad.
TE Levine Toilolo & RB Terron Ward
It’s hardly their fault they weren’t out there, but Ward and Toilolo are far from roster locks, and the unfortunate reality is that any time they miss can work against them. Nobody at tight end or running back truly stood out in their absences, but both could find themselves on the curb when the 53 man roster comes out, and both need to get back.