Arthur Smith and the coaching staff have gone out of their way thus far in preseason to keep starters off the field, with only Younghoe Koo, Kaleb McGary, Josh Andrews, Isaiah Oliver and Fabian Moreau receiving any kind of playing time to this point. Smith has indicated that starters will get some time in the preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns, but until we see it, there’s certainly reason to be skeptical given what we’ve seen up to this point.
However, in an interesting interview with Rich Eisen—I recommend it for Lee Smith jokes and COVID-19 talk, as well—Smith affirmed that the team intends to play everybody, hedging only a bit for Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts.
“I think the preseason has definitely been evolving,” Smith told Eisen, noting that the third game used to be considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season. “It’ll be interesting around the league to see how much people play, you know, the guys they know are going to be on the roster. With us, you know, the anticipation is we’ll probably play everybody.”
Smith alluded to it being a tune-up for the regular season, one that won’t feature heavy game planning, and my expectation remains that most starters will only be in the game for a couple of series, with Ryan still seemingly likely to basically sit this one out. Still, it will be nice to even get a glimpse at the staring offense and defense against an expected playoff contender, especially with roster cutdowns and Week 1 of the season right around the corner.
We still won’t know for certain until gametime, because Smith is talking about the decision being made late Saturday and I doubt it’ll come with an accompanying press release, but go ahead and pencil in “watching Kyle Pitts” for your Sunday night schedule. Lord knows we’ve waited long enough.