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4 key observations from the Falcons’ first preseason game

Some of the things we saw from the Falcons Thursday were surprising, and some weren’t.

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve spent a lot of time at Falcons training camp, and there were a few things that surprised me about the team’s performance against Washington in Week 1 of the preseason. Generally, these things just weren’t consistent with what we’ve seen in practice.

Conversely, there were a few things that happened on Thursday against Washington that stood out for their consistency with what we’ve seen from the Falcons.

  1. The first team offense looked shaky, which has been consistent with practice. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think it’s time to panic. They’re still working on timing and communication and developing chemistry. Also, we’re talking about a very small sample size. Ryan attempted just four passes total. He and the rest of the first team squad weren’t given enough playing time to settle into a rhythm. Still, it’s definitely an issue that needs to improve before the regular season starts.
  2. Matt Schaub played very well, which has not been consistent with what we’ve seen from him in practice situations. Based on his performance, I’m willing to suspend my prediction that he’ll be beat out for the backup job, and easily, until after I see more from Schaub in game situations. Obviously, Schaub brings a lot of experience to the position, both in the league in general and in this scheme in particular, so if he looks adequate I have no issue with him being selected as Ryan’s backup.
  3. The rookie linebackers are good, and this is something you’ve heard from us nearly every day the team has been in training camp. De’Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones are fast and getting the hang of things quickly. They both looked solid in their first NFL action. It’s very exciting.
  4. J.D. McKissic has a legit shot to win the return specialist role, and this isn’t necessarily something we’ve seen in practice. He’s getting plenty of return reps in practice, though has never looked as explosive as he did in Thursday’s game. Game situations are where he needs to look explosive, though, so that’s certainly a big point in his favor.

What did you observe during the game Thursday that was consistent or inconsistent with what you’ve seen or heard about out of training camp?