We wouldn’t expect starters to get a ton of run in Week 1 preseason action against the Dolphins on Thursday, but most will see the field for at least a series or two. Dan Quinn told reporters Tuesday, though, that we can expect some key players to be entirely sidelined.
“We’ll probably have about eight to 10 guys that won’t go, we’ll hold in this game. But for the majority of the group, we’re ready to go and play, and so we’re excited to see those guys do that,” Quinn said.
So which players will sit out? I’m guessing that it will be every player who’s currently fighting through an injury.
- Julio Jones: Jones is working his way back from a foot injury and is focused on being fully healthy for the start of the season. Jones is also basically superhuman and is the best receiver in the NFL, and he frankly doesn’t need a single snap of preseason action.
- Calvin Ridley: The young receivers on the roster should get plenty of opportunities with Jones and Ridley both sidelined. Ridley’s dealing with a hamstring tweak. It’s not serious and shouldn’t hinder him long-term, but for guys like Julio and Ridley, the team doesn’t want to risk forcing them back out there before they’re fully able to perform and risk further injury.
- Deion Jones: Like Julio, Jones is working through a foot injury. Jones relies on his speed and athleticism to make plays, and until he can explode off of that foot comfortably and at full speed, the Falcons are going to be cautious with him.
- Kaleb McGary: McGary underwent a minimally invasive heart procedure to treat atrial fibrillation, a heartbeat irregularity. It’s the third time he’s had this procedure and there should be no long-term impact to his ability to play. McGary was at Tuesday’s practice watching his teammates from the sideline, which is encouraging. Blood thinners are required post-procedure, and playing in the NFL on blood thinners would be very dangerous, so part of what we’re waiting on there is for McGary to be cleared to go off of them.
- James Carpenter: The word on the street is that it’s a quad for Carpenter. Hauling 321 pounds around the field with a tweaked quad sounds objectively horrible, and the team’s not going to rush him back and run the risk of Carpenter missing more time. This will create more opportunity for Jamon Brown to show what he can do.
- Desmond Trufant: Trufant has a back injury, and Dan Quinn said he was almost back to full reps in Tuesday’s practice, so it’s not a long-term cause for worry. But I’d be surprised if they trotted him out there on Thursday unless he’s basically 100%. Trufant is one who could see some snaps if he’s healthy enough and if the Falcons lean toward eight players sitting instead of 10.
- Duke Riley: Riley could use the preseason work, but he’s been out with a groin and hip flexor injury. That’s not an easy injury to recover from, and it is an easy one to re-aggravate, so it would be reckless to rush him back.
- Foye Oluokun: Oluokun’s got an oblique injury, and as much as linebackers rely on quick changes of direction, that’s gonna hurt like hell at game speed. I wouldn’t expect him to be on the field for this one.
- Marcus Green: Green has a hamstring injury, and while it’s unfortunate for a young player to miss these opportunities to show what he’s capable of, it’s also going to be impossible for him to play to his potential with a tweaked hammy.
- Ra’Shede Hageman: Hageman’s dealing with a groin injury. He’s also facing a two-game suspension to start the regular season, so there’s a lot riding on Hageman having a strong camp and preseason, but that’s just not possible until he recovers.
If those projections are correct, that means we should see at least some action for Matt Ryan, Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and the rest of the starters. What do you expect to see from the Falcons vs. the Dolphins on Thursday?