Earlier this offseason, Arthur Smith told Mike Bell and Carl Dukes at 92.9 The Game that starters would get more run in preseason for the Falcons. Today, he threw open the floodgates a little more, saying every healthy player will get on the field in Atlanta’s three preseason games.
That quote comes to us from our own Adnan Ikic, who is at Flowery Branch today for practice, and will be welcome for those who value the team getting additional work in via live game action and those of us who like seeing more competitive preseason games, period.
Smith says everybody will play in the preseason game, as long as they’re healthy. “I promise you, if everyone is healthy they will play.”— Adnan Ikic (@SayWhichWay) August 6, 2022
As Kevin Knight notes, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to get to play a ton of snaps. Kyle Pitts is a national treasure and arguably the most vital player on offense, so chances are his preseason snaps will be limited to a series or two in each game, if even that many snaps. Ditto Marcus Mariota later in the preseason if he truly has the starting job sewn up, as the last thing the Falcons want to do is derail the season. That sort of caution was undoubtedly part of what led the Falcons to sit starters throughout last year’s preseason with a very thin roster, and you’re not going to suddenly see the Falcons tuning up by players all their starters for a full preseason game.
Still, the hope will be that additional playing time will lead to a sharper squad earlier in the year, especially with a brutal opening stretch for the 2022 schedule. Back in May, Smith had this to say about preseason snaps:
“Yeah, my approach will certainly change this year,” Smith said of preseason snaps, adding a little later that “I’m going to go a little more old school, and we gotta get ready to play, we gotta get ready to go from the jump. Is that the reason we lost the first two games? No, but it certainly didn’t help. We gotta play smarter, we can’t have self-inflicted wounds.”
We’ll see how this plays out, but it doesn’t sound like anyone who is healthy will be in mothballs this August. Our first chance to see what that actually means in practice will come this Friday when the Falcons face the Lions.