The Falcons will be missing at least two big names and at least two small names when they kick off against the Dolphins Thursday night. The weird thing about preseason is that the smaller names are much more likely to be consequential.
Let’s back up. Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel are not going to play, which is not at all a surprise. Both are vital cogs for this offense, and neither were likely to play a ton of preseason snaps even if they were perfectly healthy. No big deal here, then.
The fact that the Falcons will be missing reserve tackle Kevin Graf and running back BJ Daniels matters more. Graf is one of the many men competing for the swing tackle gig, and this gives players like Andreas Knappe, Daniel Brunskill, Will Freeman, and DJ Tialavea an opportunity to gain an early edge on the veteran. That could be consequential, given how little game action these players have in which to distinguish themselves.
Ditto Daniels, who is a longshot squaring off against Brian Hill, Terron Ward, and freshly signed Kelvin Taylor in a battle for the third running back job. This puts him firmly behind the eight ball in a contest he already probably wasn’t going to win.
We’ll see a fuller injury report tomorrow, I’d expect, but needless to say you shouldn’t have expected a Julio Jones touchdown grab in this one regardless.