Thursday’s game was difficult to watch and downright boring at times. At other times, it was quite entertaining—particularly when the Falcons were on defense. Honestly, the best part about the fourth preseason game is that it was the final preseason game. Which means that we’re on to the regular season!
Still, the Jacksonville game did tell us some interesting things about the roster. Some players had excellent performances that may have secured their spots on the 53-man roster and practice squad. I’m not going to claim that I watched the game again—even I have some standards—but these are the main points that I remembered after processing the game overnight.
LB Jermaine Grace should make this team
Grace looked like a man on a mission against Jacksonville. He knew he had an opportunity with the uncertainty surrounding LaRoy Reynolds’ injury, and he made the most of it with his performance on Thursday night. Grace was making plays all over the field: he looked fast, physical, and instinctual from the LB position. He also got plenty of snaps on special teams and came up with a great tackle on kick coverage. Grace should make this roster as the final LB, even if Reynolds’ injury is less serious than we think.
Eric Saubert showed enough to save his roster spot
Saubert was in a dicey spot heading into this game. Two disappointing performances in the first and second preseason games had put his position on the 53-man roster in jeopardy. Fortuitously, he had a decent performance against the Cardinals that gave us some hope. Against the Jaguars, I believe he did enough to secure his spot. His blocking looked better—though it’s still the weakest part of his game—and he made an absolutely fantastic catch in traffic. He was always going to be a project, but it now looks like he could be ready to contribute at some point this season.
There will be a lot of difficult decisions to make on the DL
The players that undoubtedly stood out the most against the Jaguars were the two EDGEs, J’Terius Jones and Chris Odom. Jones has had an excellent preseason and continued with another strong performance on Thursday. Odom got off to a quiet start, but has now had two exceptional games in a row. The Falcons probably want to keep both of these players around, but it will be difficult to make that happen. I think Jones ends up on the roster due to his positional flexibility, and Odom ends up on the practice squad. Both could be valuable contributors in the future.
Marvin Hall appears to have won the WR6 competition
This was the final chapter in what has been arguably the most entertaining position battle this preseason. Marvin Hall, Reggie Davis, and Nick Williams were all in consideration for the final WR spot on the roster. Davis had the slight edge going into this game, but I think Marvin Hall did enough against the Jaguars to distance himself from the pack. Hall had some excellent plays on offense to go along with his special teams acumen. He’s versatile and capable of doing a number of things well, including covering kicks and returning them. I think he’s the favorite to make the roster now, with Reggie Davis ending up on the practice squad.
The OL depth is a concern—and the team knows about it
Friday’s news that the Falcons traded for T Ty Sambrailo essentially confirms what we all knew: the Falcons had a big problem with their offensive line depth—namely at tackle. Atlanta’s reserve players were getting bullied all evening against Jacksonville, to the point where it was very difficult to evaluate anyone on offense. But, I don’t believe we should be concerned about it. The team has taken steps to address it by signing T Austin Pasztor earlier in the preseason, and now bringing in Sambrailo. They’re much more comfortable on the interior with G/C Ben Garland and G Sean Harlow claiming those two spots.
These are my biggest takeaways from Thursday’s game. Soon there will be a million roster cuts to deal with, but for now rejoice in the knowledge that the preseason has finally reached its end. What were some of your thoughts on the game? Any players that stood out to you?