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Where the Atlanta Falcons stand heading into Week 1 of preseason

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Your primer for the game ahead.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Falcons fans! As we creep closer to our first preseason game, I wanted to take a look at where Atlanta is at the moment, both health and roster-wise, and talk about what’s at stake for this team and the outlook for the Jets game. We’ll be doing this weekly and it’ll start to be a lot more interesting and relevant once we get to the regular season, but we are starting it up early anyways.

Roster Update

Right now, the Falcons have the full 90 man roster and a little while until they need to cut this thing down, so you shouldn’t expect drastic shakeups. The most recent signing of note was safety Ron Parker, but the Falcons will surely shake up the bottom of the 90 man after the first preseason game, especially if they see things they don’t like about any of their current fourth stringers.

Otherwise, we’re waiting and will see what shakeups come when we get closer to the cutdown deadline.

Health

There are only two players who have been declared out at this point, and they are swing tackle candidate Ty Sambrailo and kicker Matt Bryant. Takkarist McKinley is currently a toss-up, per Dan Quinn, depending on what the medical staff has to say later in the week.

Their absences give players a chance to fight for roster spots, or in the case of Bryant, practice squad spots. As long as the team stays just about this healthy heading into the weekend, I’ll consider it a pretty successful Friday.

What’s at stake?

Two things, really:

  • If you’re a Luke McNitt and fighting for a starting job, or a Matt Gono and jockeying for a roster spot, this game matters a great deal. It’s your first opportunity in real game action to show the coaching staff what you can do, and the reserves are guaranteed to get a long look against the Jets. For the players currently somewhere between spots 63-90, it’s a chance to stick around a little longer and inch your way up toward a role with the team. The Falcons, as we all know, like to tinker with the bottom of their roster.
  • Player health. It’s not fun to point out, but this team looks so good that one of the few things that will keep them from a successful season is the dread specter of injury. The Falcons need to make it through this and all other preseason games relatively unscathed, and they know it.

Also, I guess showing up the Jets on their home field, if you really are into that kind of thing.

Outlook

The Falcons should fare just fine in this one. You’ll get a series or two for the starters to warm up and show some chemistry, particularly in the passing game, and then they’ll cede way to the reserves. I’d expect Kurt Benkert and Garrett Grayson to get long looks as they battle for the practice squad quarterback spot, Luke McNitt and Ricky Ortiz to split snaps as they push for the starting fullback job, and extended chances for the team’s young defensive UDFAs to audition for roles.

Don’t worry about who wins this game, of course, just about how individual players fare. I think we’ll have plenty to talk about when it’s all over.