The Falcons wrapped up another practice against the Miami Dolphins in the sizzling south Florida heat on Thursday. These inter-team practices are much more notable than normal training camp with players much more competitive and happy to finally be playing against opponents and not teammates.
It also gives fans a much better look at the team as a whole. When one side of the ball struggles during training camp, who knows if that side of the ball is dominant or the other side is just struggling? Luckily, the Dolphins provide a great test for this Falcons team. Miami is superbly coached with a stout defense.
Calvin Ridley will be getting a lot of extra attention this year with Julio Jones now in Tennessee. The good news is, even though the Dolphins are sending extra attention his way, he is making some huge plays.
The Falcons have had a frustratingly bland defense for the better part of a decade, with perhaps the only exception being Mike Nolan’s first season with Atlanta. Big name players have failed to move the needle year after year. New defensive coordinator Dean Pees may buck this trend, as his heavy blitzes wreaked havoc during Week 1 of the preseason and consistently during practice against Miami.
Dean Peas isn't messing around -- Dolphins getting a lot of good looks at pressure packages.— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) August 19, 2021
Rookie Kyle Pitts has been a little quiet during practices, reportedly struggling to play consistently against safety Eric Rowe. He has been getting a fair number of targets, finally paying off today for a score.
Dueling TDs during red zone 11-on-11:— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) August 19, 2021
Tua to Jakeem Grant for a nice corner TD against AJ Terrell
Matt Ryan to Kyle Pitts with a laser down the middle for a TD
I would also like to note that Russell Gage is good. He could have a huge year at WR2 if he stays healthy.
The Falcons have been dealing with a number of injuries along the defensive line. It has not had a huge impact on the defense (see above), but Atlanta cannot afford to stumble into Week 1 of the regular season with a beat up roster.
Not practicing today: Sheffield, Davidson, Abrams and Cominsky. #Falcons— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) August 19, 2021
Backup quarterbacks that get a lot of offseason attention are playing either very well or very poorly. AJ McCarron falls into the latter category after a poor performance in Week 1 of preseason. He has reportedly followed up that performance with some new lows.
#Falcons offense is over there struggling on the far away field. McCarron continuing to look god awful.— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) August 19, 2021
Having covered the Falcons for about a decade, and having read Ledbetter for years prior to then, this may be his worst critique of a Falcons player. And this was before his final pass.
Same situation, backups vs backups ... both defenses win:— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) August 19, 2021
Dolphins offense goes 4-and-out
AJ McCarron has pass tipped and intercepted around midfield
With that, practice is over
McCarron looks to be in serious trouble if he can’t put together a good performance this weekend.