Falcons Preseason Preview: Storylines to watch

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Football is back as the Falcons travel to Detroit to take on the Lions in the team’s first preseason matchup on Friday. It’s the roster cut-down time of the year when organizations will go from 90 to 53 men in less than a month. Here are the top storylines to watch in the Falcons preseason matchup:

Quarterbacks snap count

Marcus Mariota will take as many reps as Arthur Smith will give him, which shouldn’t be glossed over. It’s been a while since he’s been a full-time starter, and even though he’s familiar with Smith’s offense, shaking off the rust and nerves shouldn’t be considered a given. Mariota should be allowed to play several series or until he puts together an impactful array of plays.

Ridder will likely garner the most snaps in the quarterback room. The rookie is reportedly way behind Mariota in terms of the quarterback competition, as Jeff Schultz of The Athletic¬†explicitly points to the first-year quarterback’s accuracy as the difference between the two. It’s not all that surprising, though. Ridder was knocked coming out of Cincinnati for his less-than-ideal accuracy, but this will be a great test for him against a hungry Lions team. Feleipe Franks‘ snap count is less clear; he could play a portion of his reps at tight end and quarterback, so that’s an exciting development for the Falcons preseason.

Center rotation, position battle

The offensive line could feature as many as three new starters, with Kaleb McGary, Jalen Mayfield, and Matt Hennessy battle for their respective positions. For much of training camp, McGary has been a mainstay at right tackle and should be expected to beat out Germain Ifedi. Mayfield has been disappointing in camp and missed time due to a lower back injury, but even before the injury kept him out, Elijah Wilkinson was taking all of the first-team reps. However, the most intriguing position battle is between Hennessy and Drew Dalman. The two linemen rotated every other series for two weeks last regular season, and it’s been more of the same during training camp. It’s by far the most neck and neck race — one that could last all the way up to Week 1.

How many reps will the starters garner?

Arthur Smith and Dan Campbell confirmed that the starters would play in Friday’s preseason affair, but neither specified who and how many snaps they’d get. We know Marcus Mariota will be in for at least one series, but that’s where the known list ends. Grady Jarrett, AJ Terrell, Casey Hayward, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jake Matthews, and Kyle Pitts probably don’t need to play many snaps. Other starters like Richie Grant, Jaylinn Hawkins, Mykal Walker, Ade Ogundeji, and Drake London should garner more reps, given their lack of experience.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

Thanks for reading about the Falcons preseason matchup against the Lions; what’re you most excited to see?

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