One of the few truly redeeming aspects of preseason games, besides the fact that they resemble real football games so strongly, is that they provide players a chance to compete for roster spots and starting jobs in a game-like situation. That means roster battles are always worth monitoring during these games, and the Falcons have a few worthy ones this year that we’ll be focusing in all laser-like this Thursday night when Atlanta plays the Miami Dolphins.
Here are five to watch tonight.
I’m not sure who will draw the nominal start, but Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer should both get a lot of run in this one as Dan Quinn and company try to determine who should be the starter in the 2017 regular season. I’ll hazard a guess and say Garland’s the first man on the field, but Schweitzer gets more snaps. Expect it to be flipped the following week, but this one won’t be decided quickly.
You could be looking at four or five different players here, and with Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder likely exiting early if they play at all, there’ll be snaps aplenty to go around. Look for Andreas Knappe to get out there early with Daniel Brunskill, with Will Freeman and DJ Tialavea getting on the field after that duo. Knappe and Graf are the early favorites, while the last three names should all be in contention for the practice squad.
The Falcons basically have their top four and perhaps even five receivers settled, but that leaves a little space for a sixth receiver or at least a practice squad spot or two, given the team’s love of receiving options. Expect training camp standouts Marvin Hall and Anthony Dable to get a lot of run tomorrow night, and perhaps someone will else will impress with a little time on the field. It seems there’s one receiver who impresses out of nowhere every single year.
With Jalen Collins suspended for the first ten games of the season, the Falcons need at least two cornerbacks to step up behind Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Brian Poole. C.J. Goodwin and Deji Olatoye are the early favorites, but expect Akeem King and 6’3” rookie Jarnor Jones to get a ton of playing time in this one to see if they’re going to be worth keeping around. The Falcons could keep six corners, which would make those guys the prime contenders.
Andre Roberts is the presumptive favorite here, but I’d expect Brian Hill, Justin Hardy, and some of the young receivers to get opportunities as the game grinds on. Roberts may not get more than a single return, so it’ll be incumbent on the other contenders to turn heads to beat out Roberts, who also should have the fifth receiver gig sewn up.