The Jacksonville Jaguars tout playmakers on both sides of the football. Leonard Fournette is a bruising young back who poses a challenge for the most adept defensive lines. Jalen Ramsey is an elite corner and god tier trash-talker. Blake Bortles is a quarterback.
The Falcons couldn’t get much of anything going against Jacksonville and fell 17-6 in their third preseason game. It was a forgettable affair, so we’ll forget the scoreline and get right to the point — how did the rooks look?
Calvin Ridley showed why he was so highly regarded coming out of Alabama last week, putting his silky route-running on full display. This week was a quick reminder that although he can appear eons above his rookie status at times, Ridley is indeed still a rookie and will experience the hiccups and speed bumps that come with learning the game.
Having dropped 20 passes during his collegiate tenure, it was an issue for Ridley coming into the league. His three drops last night will give the coaching staff plenty to work on as we lurch toward the first season match-up against Philadelphia. He finished the game with one reception for 12 yards.
Ito Smith is ostensibly still penciled in as the team’s third running back, but he hasn’t shown much in the preseason thus far. Last night was more of the same: two rushes for eight yards. He did recover from his two muffs against Kansas City, logging a solid kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
Russell Gage is getting some solid looks on offense, perhaps hinting that he won’t primarily exist as a special teams asset. Matt Schaub looked for him deep downfield in the third, but the pass was overthrown. Gage finished his night with two receptions for 18 yards. Keep an eye on him against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
The Falcons’ secondary is an embarrassment of riches, and that bodes well for Oliver who has now put together two consecutive sloppy games. With Damontae Kazee playing like he drank some kind of Pro Bowl elixir, Oliver should not be expected to come in and immediately contribute. He’ll be given time to adjust and clean up his coverage mistakes.
One of those mistakes occurred on a Donte Moncrief slant where he was immediately cooked off the line of scrimmage. That play went for 37-yards, and was a glaring reminder that Oliver’s got a ways to go.
Senat has been as sturdy as his frame this preseason, and his game against Jacksonville was no exception. The guy’s like a damn tugboat. He’ll occasionally impress in pass rush, but his primary role is a Gandalfian “You shall not pass” on the defensive line.
For a big guy, though, he’s got surprising lateral speed. Senat tracked down Leonard Fournette on a screen pass in the third quarter and secured the solo stop.
Oluokun tallied two solo tackles, and continues to make his case for the final roster. He left the field for a bit after going down with an ankle injury on the kickoff, but was back in short order. He could play his way into a role on defense this year.
The undrafted rookie out of Ferris State made a few plays last night, including a sack-and-a half in the third quarter. You can never have too much depth along the defensive front, so Zimmer will need to continue his good work against Miami to crack the roster.
I can’t say enough about Jonathan Celestin. He joined the Falcons about a month ago, and has looked downright fantastic at times at linebacker. Celestin’s destination is most likely the practice squad, but he’s made a strong case so far for the 53. The final preseason game is critical for him. Jonathan Celestin finished the night with five tackles and a half sack.