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One big winner, one big loser from Falcons vs. Steelers

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Every preseason game has at least one big winner and loser in terms of playing time, performance, or just plain out outlook. It’s rarely clear what the implications of that one performance will be, but in the case of today’s choices, we have players who almost certainly will cause coaches to take a longer look at their positions.

Let’s get into it.

The biggest winner: Reggie Davis

I’ve mentioned this before, but the Falcons are not locks to bring back Taylor Gabriel a year from now (though I hope they do) and Andre Roberts is just a one year rental. Combine that with the fact that Justin Hardy’s on the last year of his rookie deal in 2018 and Mohamed Sanu has one of the team’s bigger contracts, and there may just be room for a young, dynamic wide receiver on this football team. Especially past this year.

Davis has made the strongest possible case thus far. He’s shown real prowess as a route runner and receiver, his speed is evident, and he’s quietly carved out some early special teams value when most of his young teammates are tripping over their cleats in that regard. He finished with 3 receptions for 74 yards in this one, and with Marvin Hall struggling a little bit and Anthony Dable having a relatively quiet game, maybe he got the edge he needed in the competition for sixth wide receiver/practice squad spot.

Davis’ chances of making the roster are still probably slim, but he showed out against Pittsburgh. His chances of making the practice squad are solid if he can keep it up.

The biggest loser: Eric Saubert

There were plenty of fingers to point in this one. Brian Hill once again struggled (albeit behind a poorly performing offensive line), Daniel Brunskill and his linemates erased any good will they built up against Miami, and Jarnor Jones absolutely whiffed on a tackle. For all that, I’d argue nobody had a worse night than Eric Saubert.

Saubert was called for two penalties in this one, only managed a single catch for eight yards, and looked uncertain as a blocking option. It’s not like Darion Griswold or Josh Perkins had a much better night—both only snagged one reception each—but it’s mistakes and a lack of special teams value that generally come to haunt young players trying to make a team. Saubert hasn’t shown a ton of the latter just yet and has had several of the former.

This isn’t truly a surprise—we knew Saubert would be a bit raw coming out of Drake—but it does mean there’s at least some chance the Falcons will try to sneak him on the practice squad, or potentially keep him as a fourth tight end and weekly gameday inactive. With his potential and talent, the Falcons will figure out a way to keep him, but they’ll want to see some improvement soon to feel good about him as the #3 tight end.