These three preseason games will be the bulk of the evaluation that Arthur Smith, Terry Fontenot, and the entire staff will use in their process. Obviously, the practice film will be used, as well as other intangibles inside the meeting room and facilities. Still, the offense sputtered the entire preseason matchup against the Titans and didn’t give the staff much substance to work with when determining grades. The defense, on the other hand, was quite effective and showed exactly the type of impact the group can have under Dean Pees. This is the Falcons stock watch: Who is rising and falling after the first week of the preseason?
Hawkins is pushing Richie Grant for playing time as he’s thrived when given more opportunities. He’s been flashing throughout training camp, and though he won’t unseat Erik Harris or Duron Harmon, Hawkins is solidifying his roster spot and pushing for playing time.
This could’ve been Marlon Davidson just as easily, but I chose to go with Bullard because Davidson will miss this week against the Dolphins at the very least. Bullard showed effectiveness defending the run and rushing the passer against Tennessee.
Dorian Etheridge/Erroll Thompson
Arthur Smith noted how impressed he is with the inside linebackers and how could he not be? Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun, Mykal Walker, and now… Etheridge and Thompson have made it hard not to keep them on the roster. The former carries a bigger stick when it comes to meeting ball carriers, but Thompson has shown to be just as aggressive. These two will likely be battling for one of the final spots at the position.
Green is someone I figured would make the team because of his ability to play safety and corner. He’s a versatile player in this defense, and he’s showing well on special teams too, which will be his fastest route to the field at first.
Sheffield is sliding down a slippery slope. He had a clean slate with the new regime but hasn’t quite made the most of his opportunities because they have been few and far between due to injuries. I hope he can battle for a roster spot and not just lose one because he wasn’t available.
Watching Andrews in the preseason game was exactly what I had seen in the several other games of tape I watched. He is impressive in certain situations in the run game but absolutely atrocious in pass sets. Nothing changed. He’s going to make the team purely because of the lack of depth, but this offensive line is in trouble if he starts.
This isn’t an indictment of anyone in particular. Javian Hawkins, Caleb Huntley, Qadree Ollison, and D’Onta Foreman are all battling for the last couple of spots on the depth chart, but there weren’t many carries to go around. Nobody performed poorly because they had defenders in their face before getting back to the line of scrimmage due to a porous offensive line. Following the matchup against the Dolphins, we should have a different perspective of this group.
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