The Falcons take the field for the fourth time this preseason tomorrow, but it’s really the third week, which means the dress-rehearsal game. We should see the starters for at least one half, and it will likely be the last time we see most of them before the regular season. The Falcons will be trying to avoid a 12th consecutive preseason loss, but more importantly, they will be trying to fix the numerous problem areas that existed last week against the Jets.
5. Dan Quinn announced eight players will not be playing
We know Deion Jones and Julio Jones will not be featured all pre-season. Six other players will be joining them in street clothes tomorrow – Ty Sambrailo, Foyesade Oluokon, Kaleb McGary, Damontae Kazee, Russell Gage, and Kendall Sheffield. Kazee, Gage, and Sheffield all suffered injuries in last week’s game versus the Jets, but none of them are considered to be too severe.
4. The offensive line will be tested by another stout defensive front
The Falcons starting offensive line was abused by the Jets last week. To the Jets credit, they have some beasts on their defensive front, and positively, preseason games don’t mean anything. Atlanta’s line will have another opportunity to prove themselves against the fierce front seven of the Washington Redskins. Hopefully, they perform better, but either way, it’s a chance for them to get some quality reps in versus top-notch competition.
3. Jermaine Grace’s push for a roster spot
The injuries to Foyesade Oluokon, Duke Riley, and Deion Jones have given Jermaine Grace and excellent opportunity to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster to begin the season. He picked off Josh Rosen two weeks ago and then led the team in tackles against the Jets with six. The speedy linebacker has received comparisons from Dan Quinn to Deion Jones because of his ability in coverage. Grace made the roster back in 2017 but was released after just five games. He returned to the practice squad last year after short stints with several teams. As of now, I think he’s done enough to earn a roster spot over a guy like Duke Riley, but with a couple more strong performances, it will be very difficult to keep him off the 53-man.
2. Can Jaeden Graham make it impossible to keep him off the roster?
Coming into the offseason, the Falcons had four tight-ends that looked like they had a good chance of making the roster – Austin Hooper, Logan Paulsen, Eric Saubert, and Luke Stocker. Now, having four tight ends is a bit of overkill, which is why it wasn’t shocking to see Saubert shipped to New England for a conditional seventh-round pick. However, was he traded because the Falcons think they only need three tight ends, or because Jaeden Graham is making a name for himself?
Graham was on the practice squad last season and hails from Yale University. He led the team in receiving yards against the Jets with four catches for 55 yards, including one in which he hurdled a defender. Graham is an intriguing player to watch over the next two weeks.
1. Is Matt Gono starter worthy?
If you watched the last preseason game, you saw Tyler Sambrailo get abused early and often. There’s no way he is inspiring much confidence as a starter with Kaleb McGary out. There is an outside McGary is cleared by week one of the season, but even if he is, I’m not sure he will be ready to start without any preseason action, meaning UDFA Matt Gono has a real chance of being the starting right tackle to open the season. He’s been solid during the preseason, and Quinn has already stated that he would feel good about Gono starting if it was necessary. With Ty Sambrailo set to miss this game; it’s a perfect opportunity for Gono to prove he is starter worthy.