Five Falcons players to watch this Preseason


The wait is finally over. Football is back! Yesterday marked the first football game we have seen since Nick Foles and the Eagles triumphed over the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens faced off in the annual Hall of Fame game. The electrifying first-round pick, Lamar Jackson, took center stage, adding a little more excitement to the usually boring preseason games. He finished 4-10 with a touchdown and an interception in limited work.

However, it is football, and for us addicts that just can’t get enough, it is nice to look out for some guys who could provide an unexpected boost over the course of a sixteen game grind. The Falcons first preseason game will be at the Jets on August 10th. Let’s take a look at five guys that will be worth watching over the course of the four exhibition games.

Duke Riley

A lot of draft experts panned Riley as a steal when the Falcons selected him out of LSU last season. Looking back at it, they may have just been comparing him a bit too much to LSU’s previous linebacker and current Falcons star, Deion Jones. Yes, the comparisons were similar in terms of career paths at LSU, size, and speed, but the results could not have been more different. Jones rose up as a starter and leader of the defense, while Riley never really found his footing.

The transition from college to the NFL can be the toughest for linebackers. There are numerous examples of linebackers that have gone on to have successful careers after a lousy rookie campaign. It is way too early to give up on Riley now, but simply put, he has to be better going forward. He should get a ton of work this preseason now that he is fully healthy, and he is a guy to keep an eye on as the Falcons look for quality linebacker depth behind Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell.

Brandon Fusco

As an eight-year veteran and starter, I do not expect Fusco to be on the field much during the preseason. Nevertheless, he is replacing what was the Falcons weakest link on the offense a year ago. His presence should once again solidify the offensive line, giving Matt Ryan time to make use of all his weapons, and running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman gaping holes to run through.

The addition of Fusco could have the Falcons offense running like a well-oiled machine once again. Who cannot wait to catch a glimpse of that this preseason?

Damontae Kazee

There have been plenty of rumors surrounding a new contract for Ricardo Allen. Most of them reporting positives that the two sides want to get a deal done. Rico has turned into the cornerstone at the back of the defense, but if for some reason the two sides cannot come to an agreement, Kazee could be the guy to replace him.

The fifth-round pick out of San Diego State entered the NFL known for one thing, takeaways. He showcased just that in the Wild Card round when he stripped Pharoh Cooper on a kickoff return. When he was on the field on defense, he showed no weaknesses against the run or the pass.

In college, he was used as a corner. So far, he has been used as a free safety with Falcons. I expect it to stay that way with Atlanta having so many talented corners already on the roster. Kazee should be in for some more playing time this upcoming season, and a solid preseason showing will make it even harder for Dan Quinn to keep him off the field.

The entire Falcons 2018 draft class 

Yeah, this might be five guys already. So what, the title is a little deceiving. Calvin Ridley will get some looks in the preseason, although they will probably be more conservative with him. It is still going to be awesome seeing him suit up in a Falcons uniform for the first time. The two main guys I am really excited about seeing this preseason are Brandon Oliver and Deadrin Senat.

Oliver was one of the most talented corners in this draft with tremendous size and strength. He could be a huge addition to help cover the large receivers that roam around the NFC South. Senat is going to be vital to the Falcons success. The Atlanta defense needs to do a better job of clogging up running lanes in the middle of the line. The Falcons waited until the third round to address the interior defensive line, which means they must believe Senat can make an impact as a rookie.

Atlanta also selected Foye Oluokun in the sixth round of the draft. One of the few Ivy League players to make it to the NFL, Oluokun is out to make a name for himself as a linebacker. Dan Quinn has said some favorable things about Oluokun thus far, and as mentioned previously, the Falcons are open to adding quality linebacker depth.

Richard Jarvis

Speaking of Ivy League players trying to make it to the NFL. Richard Jarvis is an undrafted free agent linebacker out of Brown. In the Ivy League, Jarvis was a force to be reckoned with, but it goes without saying the bump up in competition is not going to be easy.

However, if there is one thing Jarvis has going for him it is size and speed. At 6’2″, 220 pounds, he ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at his Pro-Day, which is not too far behind Deion Jones and Duke Riley, who each ran the fastest linebacker time at their respective combines. Jarvis was a tackling machine in college and comes to the NFL with the right build. It will be interesting to see if he can make the squad.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: