We love to take many bites at the apple when it comes to analyzing Falcons games, even if they’re preseason games. So while we’ve talked story lines, will be talking matchups, and will be swearing at the television at some point during Sunday’s game, I also have questions. And dangit, never let a question go unanswered.
How will Takk McKinley play?
Takk’s hitting the field for the first time Sunday against the Steelers, and while he’ll likely get fairly limited run, it’s an exciting time. The consistently hilarious rookie defensive end has already endeared himself to the fanbase, but like most rookie defensive ends, we really have no idea how good he’s going to look on the field.
In his 10-20 snaps, I’m hopeful McKinley will show us the better-than-advertised run defense chop Dan Quinn talked up earlier this week, plus the pass rushing acumen we’re counting on. That’s a tall order, but always hope.
Will Brian Hill step up?
I liked the Brian Hill pick when it was made, and I continue to like his long-term outlook for the Falcons. There’s a chance he’ll follow the Ricardo Allen career path and wind up on the practice squad his first year as a fifth round pick, which would be unfortunate for him. If he doesn’t want to go there, he’s going to need to show the Falcons more here in the rest of preseason.
That’s particularly true with Terron Ward continuing to churn out solid performances, as he has for the last two seasons despite regularly being counted out by idiots like yours truly. If Hill can get on track against the Steelers, it’ll help him hold off Ward, or force the Falcons to keep four backs.
Will the cornerbacks bounce back?
Jalen Collins had a poor game, all told, but so did C.J. Goodwin. Deji Olatoye had a couple of flashes but otherwise didn’t stand out, either, and Akeem King was largely invisible in what I hope is a positive way. This is a short way of saying that the team’s options behind the likes of Brian Poole and Damontae Kazee don’t currently look inspiring.
Thankfully, it’s just one preseason game, and we already know Goodwin and Olatoye are capable of getting it done against more fierce competition. It’d just be nice to see them hold up well against a deep Steelers receivers corps as we get closer to the season, and those guys will absolutely get playing time when the results really matter.