Falcons versus Titans will be one giant family reunion

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Football is finally back. The Falcons’ first preseason game will be a matchup in Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the Titans on Friday, August 13th. Hopefully, given the date, there is no bad luck, and both of these teams get out of it fully healthy. Most of the time, a Falcons and Titans matchup wouldn’t garner that much interest because of the different conferences, but this particular one is… even if it is the preseason, because of the many reunions that will take place.

There is a clear and obvious name that will dominate headlines this weekend — Julio Jones. The All-Pro receiver will travel back to where he called home for nearly a decade in his first away game as a member of the Titans. With the recent reports that Jones hasn’t been practicing because of a precautionary approach by Tennessee’s staff, he’s pretty much guaranteed not to suit up. Still, there will surely be some sour Falcons fans after they see him on the sidelines of their home field in a different team’s colors.

The other obvious name is Arthur Smith, who will be coaching against his old team. Smith called Tennessee his home for nearly a decade through multiple head coaching changes; in fact, Jones and Smith both joined their former teams in 2011. Though, their situations differ dramatically, which is apparent in how their former fans view them today.

Those are just the headliners; several other “reunions” will take place in this one. Dean Pees retired as the defensive coordinator of the Titans, then came back to coach under Arthur Smith. Former Falcons, such Brian Hill, Luke Stocker, Ty Sambrailo, and Jared Pinkney, return to Atlanta but in a different uniform. And former Titans — Parker Hesse, Tajae Sharpe, and D’Onta Foreman — will hope to perform well against their old team as they battle for one of the final roster spots on the Falcons.

There will be plenty of smiling faces and hugs following the game, but there is still a game. There is a laundry list of position battles worth watching throughout the entire preseason. The Falcons will be searching for a starting left guard and backup tackles along the offensive front. On the opposite side of the trenches, the defense will be searching for a running mate next to Grady Jarrett and opposite Dante Fowler. The nickel spot and backup cornerback spots are also up for grabs.

Then there is the running back room, which should prove to be an intriguing battle. Guys like Javian Hawkins, Caleb Huntley, Qadree Ollison, D’Onta Foreman will be battling for two spots behind Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson. The end of the receiver depth chart should be fierce as well, and I will continue to update the roster battles as they progress. Some people don’t enjoy the preseason, but most of these guys have dreamed of this chance their entire lives, so I give them the recognition they deserve. Football is back!

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