Here we are, Falcons fans. If you’re like me, then you’re looking forward to a fun-filled, seventeen-week (at least!) season that will likely consist of laughs, tears, and a facepalm or two. But before the fun gets underway, there’s one last preseason game. And look, given that this will be the fifth preseason game, I’d understand a lack of enthusiasm, if that’s where you’re at. It’d be a natural response.
But wait, don’t fast forward to the regular season just yet. Our own Jeanna Thomas was on hand for practice today as well as head coach Dan Quinn’s press availability after practice. Quinn had some interesting things to say, especially about why this is still a valuable football game.
1. Reps on reps on reps
It honestly sounds like Quinn had a great time this week. Clearly no one has told him about their preseason record and why that matters! Today is their “Friday” so he had a chance to reflect back on how the last week of their preseason work shook out.
“This has been an awesome week for us,” Quinn said. “We did as many situations as we could with the team and some of them at full speed, when you don’t normally get that, but we by design had some extra days from the camp space.” In short, this gives them time to get in a few more situational reps before the season kicks off next weekend. And Quinn loves to see his guys compete. “It was just offense against defense competing against each other,” Quinn noted.
And speaking of competition ...
2. Competition in its purest form
Quinn has been through this process before. He even conceded today that there aren’t a lot of roster spots still up in the air at this point in the preseason. But that doesn’t mean they don’t value this game. In fact, Quinn has a lot of respect for what takes place in the last preseason game.
“[I have] great regard for [the last preseason game],” Quinn told reporters. “Because I know it’s one final push to say, ‘I belong.’ It’s one final push to say, ‘If it’s not here, it’s somewhere else.’ And so for all these guys that are going for it, I hold them all in high regard.”
When Quinn talks about what he want to do for his players - former, present, and future - it’s obvious where the “Brotherhood” mantra came from. “And I want to make sure that if it’s not here,” Quinn continued, “that [they] have a chance to go somewhere else.”
That’s just how it works in the NFL. You have a reason to play hard, no matter how impossible your path to a roster spot. This may well be your last time wearing a football uniform. So it’s now or never, even if there isn’t room on the depth chart here. “[The guys on the bubble] also recognize that if it doesn’t happen here, it doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.”
3. Kaleb McGary’s first game action
First round right tackle Kaleb McGary will likely see his first preseason action this week.
Quinn sounded reasonably confident McGary would play in the final preseason game. “I’m planning on Kaleb playing, unless I hear differently,” Quinn explained. “He had an awesome week. And I know he’s excited ... he’s really worked hard to get back and get going. He’s hit all the markers.”
Whether McGary starts early in the year remains to be seen. It will just be nice to see him get his first work this preseason.
So there you have it. There are three reasons to be excited about this week’s preseason game. Now go, be excited!