Finally, we’ve made it to the end of the preseason. Thursday’s game against Jacksonville marks the fourth and final preseason game of the 2017 season, meaning real football is only a week away. That’s a cause for some celebration!
In the meantime, there is still the matter of the final game. The starters are unlikely to play much, if at all, which means that the reserves will see extended time against the Jaguars. This will be the last chance for players on the bubble to impress the coaching staff and secure their spots on the roster.
With that in mind, here are some players and position groups to monitor during Thursday’s game.
TE Eric Saubert
This is Saubert’s big chance to make his case for the roster. The Falcons will have some very difficult decisions to make at many places on the roster, but the choices with two of their fifth-round picks are probably the hardest. Saubert showed improvement against Arizona, hauling in several passes and not committing any penalties. He’ll get a chance to continue that progress against the Jaguars, and could secure his place on the roster with a good performance.
LB Jermaine Grace
With LaRoy Reynolds possibly out for some time, this is Grace’s chance to prove he deserves a spot on the roster. He’s looked athletic and physical in the previous preseason games, and he makes sense as a back-up to players like Deion Jones and Duke Riley. Grace will need to prove he can contribute on special teams, as Reynolds was a key player there. If he can’t, someone like Josh Keyes could make the roster instead.
The OL depth
This is the last chance for many of these offensive linemen to prove they deserve a spot on the roster or practice squad. With Kevin Graf and Austin Pasztor unlikely to play, the 3rd and 4th string players will likely get the majority of the snaps. Sean Harlow is likely the only one who’s spot is safe. Guys like Andreas Knappe, D.J. Tialavea (who is no longer eligible for the practice squad), and Daniel Brunskill will need to impress—otherwise, the Falcons will almost certainly bring in veteran options to replace them.
WRs Reggie Davis, Marvin Hall, and Nick Williams
This is the final battle between these three fringe WRs. All three have shown positive traits in various phases of the game: Davis appears to be the best on offense, Hall seems to be the best on special teams, and Williams provides some of both. All three will get plenty of run in this game to see if one can distance himself from the others. Ultimately, this is a good problem to have—and the second place player will likely land on the practice squad.
EDGE J’Terius Jones
Jones had a quieter game against the Cardinals, but has been quite impressive throughout the preseason. This final game against Jacksonville will be his chance to prove that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster. His versatility and ability to provide depth at multiple positions (including SAM) give him a leg up on other players, but the Falcons will have some tough choices to make. A strong game on Thursday would make those choices a bit easier.
These are the players and positions that I personally find interesting, but what about you? Who are some of the players you’ll be watching? Position groups that you’ll be monitoring closely?