The Falcons play the Titans tonight in the team’s first preseason game, and most of us are aware of the obvious things to watch for — such as position battles at backup quarterback, running back, offensive line, and more — but I wanted to take a look at the less-than-obvious things to watch out for.
Communication between Arthur Smith and quarterbacks
It may be something that is glossed over, but the communication between the sidelines and the players on the field is critical. Getting to the line of scrimmage early in the play clock allows for offensive linemen to identify potential blitzers and other blocking assignments, while giving the quarterback time to adjust any number of things. Arthur Smith and Matt Ryan‘s communication is important, and though he likely won’t get many reps, the coaching staff getting their substitutions and the logistics of running a game will be critical.
Everyone loves to hate on special teams until they win your favorite team a game. It always seems like there is a holding or blocking in the back penalty on a punt, so it will be important for those players on the fringe of the roster to separate themselves from the pack. The punt returner competition is in full swing with Avery Williams and Chris Rowland, but what is so important about special teams in the preseason is that full-speed contact is critical for the staff in their assessment of these players.
Energy and demeanor
Something as small as picking a teammate up after a bad play or running off the field instead of walking could make the difference between a roster spot and getting waived. This new regime is looking to build a winning culture, and if a player is fighting for a roster spot, it will behoove them to do everything by the book. Be sure to look for the way these guys act as they should be ripping and racing to have real contact in a football game for the first time this season. There should be no need for the coaching staff to motivate these guys; they know what is at stake.
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