- Not ruin the nice new field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium;
- Make sure the players they need to evaluate got playing time;
- Avoid major injuries.
I’d say they checked all three of those boxes, with the last one being particularly critical. The Falcons did inevitably lose some players along the way, but none of them were starters, and none of them appear to have suffered the kinds of injuries that threaten a season, at least at first glance.
First, we had LaRoy Reynolds, who exited the game very early after hurting his shoulder on the opening kickoff. Reynolds is a reserve linebacker, but he’s a solid one who also is one of the core veteran pieces of Keith Armstrong’s special teams units, so he’s a useful player the Falcons would rather not lose. With any luck, he’ll be back in action for the regular season opener.
Falcons LB LaRoy Reynolds has a shoulder injury - Return to the game is "questionable"— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) August 26, 2017
Next, there’s Brian Hill. The fifth round rookie back had a better game this time around but was still arguably outplayed by Terron Ward, who has shown a remarkable ability to stick around and also seems to get better every year. If the ankle injury Hill suffered is enough to knock him out for multiple weeks, the team may be tempted to stash him on injured reserve so they can keep Ward and worry about Hill next year. Failing that, they’re going to have to decide whether they want to build a roster with four backs (unlikely), or risk losing Hill if they want to keep Ward. Tough call.
Finally, we have Cornelius Edison, who had to be helped off the field. Edison was competing for a reserve role on the interior of the offensive line and figured to have a decent shot at getting it, given the way the line as a whole has played, so we’ll have to hope this isn’t as serious as it looked and he’ll be on the field on Thursday night. Otherwise, he’ll likely find himself waived with an injury settlement, which is not the way I want anyone heading elsewhere.
We’ll let you know if we get more updates in the hours and days ahead.