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Intriguing players to watch in Falcons vs. Packers

Which players are looking to rebound in Week 2?

NFL: Preseason-Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, the time has come to name five Atlanta Falcons players. These players are certainly ones worth watching when the team takes on the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.

If last week’s selections were themed around first impressions, then this week’s will focus mainly on players in need of a rebound after lackluster debuts.

Desmond Ridder

As noted last week, Desmond Ridder could easily be selected every week as an intriguing player. Arguably the biggest question that needs to be answered this season is whether or not Ridder is a long-term answer at quarterback. But in the interest of this week’s intrigue, it’s whether or not Ridder can rebound after a lackluster Week 1 performance.

Many will point to Ridder’s box score stats to suggest he was in fact good in the season-opener against the Carolina Panthers, but the film tells a different story. Ridder looked uncomfortable and out of sync for most of the game. Of course, one can point to the breakdowns in pass protection as a cause of that. But if Ridder is going to be the guy, there are going to be plenty more games where things break down around him and he needs to rise above that.

We won’t get the definitive answer on Ridder’s future in Atlanta based solely on his play this Sunday, but an improved performance would at least mean things are beginning to trend in the right direction.

Drake London

Another player who is in need of a rebound performance would be Drake London, who was held without a catch in his 2023 debut against the Panthers. His lone target was a dropped ball. While last week’s paltry performance can likely be treated as a one-off, finding ways to get the team’s top target and weapon more involved is important moving forward.

The challenge this week will come in the form of doing so against Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander, who is one of the best in the business.

Kaleb McGary

Another player who needs a better week 2 is right tackle Kaleb McGary after a rough showing in pass protection against Panthers outside linebacker Brian Burns. McGary’s job isn’t going to get any easier against Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary, who is just as capable as Burns.

But McGary is essentially a stand-in for the entire Falcons offensive line, who need to do a better job overall against the Packers. Unlike the Panthers, the Packers have a deeper and more diverse group of pass-rushers that can wreak havoc up front.

Kaden Elliss

Falcons middle linebacker Kaden Elliss won’t be asked to rebound after a solid 2023 debut last week. Instead, he may be forced to carry even a greater burden thanks to the absence of fellow linebacker Troy Andersen, who is out this week with a concussion.

Elliss was brought to Atlanta to be a pass-rusher but got minimal opportunities in that role last week. Despite a Falcons defensive game plan that may feature blitzing, his opportunities might also again be limited this week due to the need for him to compensate for Andersen’s absence.

Cordarrelle Patterson

Another player who should also be making his 2023 debut this week will be the designated “joker” in Cordarrelle Patterson. What makes him intriguing is exactly how he will be deployed. We’ll likely see him in his usual role as a kickoff returner, where he can impact every game. But how will he be deployed on offense?

With running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier coming off impressive Week 1 performances, it’s likely the Falcons may ask Patterson to return to his roots as more of a pass-catcher. Clearly, his designation on the Falcons depth chart indicates that the Falcons think Patterson is capable of wearing many different hats, and the intrigue is exactly which ones he dons this week.

Are there other intriguing Falcons that you can name?