Arthur Smith has not been alone in parking his starters in preseason, something that seems likely to continue in Week 2. Sean McVay and Bruce Arians are among the head coaches taking similar approaches to shortened preseason, with McVay mothballing new quarterback Matthew Stafford. If the offense in particular gets off to a slow start, there will be plenty of questions about that strategy in Atlanta, but Smith is clearly keen on avoiding injuries.
That’s why I have to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Marlon Davidson this preseason. The second-year defensive lineman was one of the more impressive Falcons on the field against Tennessee, muscling his way into the backfield against Titans backups and looking strong and capable. He’s dealing with an injury now, though it’s not expected to be a long-term one per Smith, and it sounds doubtful he’ll play against the Dolphins or even potentially travel for joint practices tomorrow.
Bounced after practice just bc the weather is... abysmal. So, I am going through Arthur Smith's presser now:— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) August 17, 2021
On Marlon Davidson: “There’s nothing long term with Marlon. We’re trying to be smart. We’re being proactive… I don’t anticipate him going down in Miami."
That’s one more starter down with the Falcons rumored to be mulling starting Feleipe Franks, and unless they’re planning a total curveball in the final preseason game and will use the Browns as a regular season audition, the only players who have a shot at prominent roles that we’ll see a lot of this preseason are guys who made appearances against the Titans like Jon Bullard, Josh Andrews, Jalen Mayfield and Richie Grant. Davidson probably would’ve been on that list, but injury and a very encouraging first effort might convince Smith to put him in packing peanuts until Week 1.
It’s a relief to know Davidson’s not trending toward missing any regular season time because the Falcons are going to count on him being a prominent piece of their defensive line rotation, as we’ve mentioned before. With health seemingly the priority and Smith evidently confident in his coaching staff and starters hitting the ground running against the Eagles, preseason is going to be almost purely about the depth and settling a few position battles, which may well lead to some more ugly and one-sided games like we saw last Friday.