For a preseason game that will be light on actual stakes, Falcons-Titans will not lack for story lines. This is Falcons tight end Parker Hesse facing off against his old team, after all, and probably some other guys too.
Oh, you say Parker Hesse isn’t the headliner? How dare you. Since you’re so insistent, let’s count some other ways this will be intriguing:
- It’s Arthur Smith matching up against his old team. It’s preseason and I don’t think Smith is about to pull out all the stops to beat his former team, but he and fellow ex-Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees would surely like to see their new Falcons do well against Tennessee.
- Julio Jones will probably not even touch the field, as he’s been dealing with an injury and it’s preseason, but he’ll at least be on the sideline against the team he was traded away from just two months ago.
- In addition to Hesse, the Falcons have former Titans Tajae Sharpe, and both players will have an opportunity to push for roster spots with standout performances in this game. Tennessee has been a landing spot for a number of former Falcons over the years, as the likes of Harry Douglas and Vic Beasley have spent time there, and while we won’t see Julio we will see former Falcons running back Brian Hill, ex-Atlanta practice squad tight end Jared Pinkney, touchdown machine and swing tackle Ty Sambrailo and beloved/reviled blocking tight end Luke Stocker.
That’s plenty of intrigue for the first preseason game, but more importantly, this will also be an opportunity to validate some of what we think we know about this roster heading into 2021. Will all those headlines for Ade Ogundeji’s first team reps and Willie Beavers taking over at right tackle for Saturday’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium practice be reflected in the depth chart for this week’s game, or will they prove to just be rewards for practicing well with no larger implications? Will players like Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield at cornerback and Tajae Sharpe at receiver be able to overcome relatively quiet camps to this point and push their way into prominent roles by excelling in preseason? Given that we’re in a condensed three game preseason schedule, all game action is going to matter even more than usual, even if it’s not all pretty for those of us at home.
The game will kick of Friday, August 13 (uh oh) at 7 p.m., and we’ll share a more detailed how-to-watch later this week. For now, tell us what you’re looking forward to from the first preseason game.