That first preseason game was a dreadful viewing experience, but it sounds like the coaching staff got a lot out of it. You can expect the same to be true in Week 2, though I’m hopeful we’ll get some more highlight reel plays to sate us as we grind our way toward the regular season.
The only change we saw this past week was the release of a tackle with no prayer of making the roster, and his subsequent replacement with defensive back Ryan Neal, who is also an extreme long shot. Otherwise, it appears the Falcons will head into the Chiefs game with the 90 man roster you’ve come to know and love over the summer, though I’d expect some more low-impact cuts following this week’s game.
The good news is that Ty Sambrailo is expected back, leaving Matt Bryant as the sole questionable player heading into Friday’s night tilt with the Chiefs. The Falcons would be wise to hold Bryant out again, ensuring he’s totally healthy, and let David Marvin once again handle duties. Marvin’s hurried miss at the end of the Jets game probably dealt a blow to his chances of hanging on to a practice squad, but another game and a longer look won’t hurt him, and Bryant gains nothing from kicking in the second preseason game.
What’s at stake?
The same sort of things that are always at stake in the preseason, which essentially is roster spots and jobs. A few things to watch for:
- Brandon Fusco outplayed Wes Schweitzer, though the degree to which he did so may have been a bit exaggerated. He’ll likely be first up against the Chiefs, and if he keeps faring well, he should still have the starting job locked up at right guard.
- Ricky Ortiz ran ahead of Luke McNitt and played pretty well. It should be McNitt’s turn up, so if Ortiz repeats as the starter for the second straight week, that’s not a very good sign for the former Nebraska product. Whichever player wins is going to be counted upon to be an upgrade on Derrick Coleman in the blocking department.
- There’s no clear leader for the returner gigs right now, but Marvin Hall and Ito Smith are my frontrunners. Let’s see how they perform.
- Duke Riley said all the right things this week, and Dan Quinn had nice things to say about his overall improvement. He’ll get a lot of playing time again this week, alongside rookie Foye Oluokun, and will need to play better than he did against the Jets to avoid answering the same questions again this week, at minimum.
- Damontae Kazee’s playing time and role. He can play safety and cornerback and had an impressive first preseason game, and the Falcons will look to get another half a game or so of tape on him to determine how they’ll fit him into the defense. Chances are he’ll be a jack-of-all-trades sort of super reserve, but don’t rule out Kazee finding his way to a third safety or even nickel cornerback role early in the year.
- Our eyes, man. Don’t let the Falcons look so inept on offense again, for the sake of those of us watching at home.
Go in with low expectations in terms of scoring, the Falcons winning, and the team putting up any kind of performance that leaves you satisfied. Instead, go in with position and roster battles in mind and look for trends that continue from the first game, especially for guys like Riley, Kazee, and Ortiz. You’ll be happier and you’ll find more interesting observations if you focus in on what individual players are doing, rather than how the Falcons themselves are playing as a unit.
Oh, and look for the team to stay healthy. That’s the only positive outlook that really matters here.