Key matchups to watch for in Falcons-Dolphins joint practices

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The Falcons and Dolphins will play in Miami in the second week of the preseason on August 21st, but it has now been confirmed that the two teams will hold joint practices on the 18th and 19th leading up to their preseason game.

Brian Flores has Miami firmly competing for the playoffs now, and the joint practices will be valuable for a first-year head coach and a re-tooled roster looking to gauge where they are among playoff contenders. Obviously, the Dolphins are more dominant on defense than they are on offense, but there are multiple matchups on both sides of the ball fans should keep an eye out for.

Xavien Howard vs. Calvin Ridley

Now the defacto no.1, Ridley will be garnering the defense’s best cover corner. This is a situation he obviously believes he can produce in, and he’ll have his chance against one of the league’s best in Xavien Howard. Howard was a 2020 First-Team All-Pro and will be a great matchup to watch go against Matt Ryan and Ridley. He’s the 2020 and 2018 interceptions leader and the most notable member of a very talented but faceless defense.

Eric Rowe, Brandon Jones, Jevon Holland vs. Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst

Arthur Smith loves his tight ends; Pitts and Hurst will surely be a big part of this new-look Falcons offense. Pitts getting valuable reps against a solid cover safety in Rowe, who has been exceptional against tight ends in recent seasons after coming over from New England, will be great for his confidence. Holland was a high-valued prospect and has excellent versatility; it’ll be interesting to see how he matches up against Pitts and Hurst.

Emmanuel Ogbah and Jaelan Phillips vs. Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary

Two established players and two young players — Matthews and Ogbah will be a great battle to watch as the latter is coming off a nine-sack season where he forced three fumbles. Phillips and McGary will be interesting as the former was the best pure pass rusher in the 2021 draft, and the latter is still developing in pass protection.

Mike Gesicki vs Deion Jones, Foyesade Oluokun, Richie Grant

Gesicki is one of the very best tight ends in the league, easily top ten at his position after hauling in 53 receptions for 703 yards and six touchdowns this past season. As two of the best in the business at covering tight ends, Debo and Foye will have a great man to test their abilities against. As for Grant, covering tight ends will be something required in Dean Pees’ defense, so matching up with Gesicki will be valuable experience.

Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler vs. Chris Lindstrom and Jalen Mayfield

The two stout interior defenders are good measuring sticks for Mayfield as he battles for the open guard spot, but Lindstrom will be sure to bully both Wilkins and Sieler.

Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle vs. A.J. Terrell and Fabian Moreau

Fuller and Waddle are not elite wide receivers but are extremely talented. Terrell doesn’t need to line up against Davante Adams or Tyreek Hill; going against the Miami duo will build his confidence, which is key for a cornerback. Moreau is likely the starter opposite of Terrell, and he’ll need every rep he can get against talented wideouts given how little experience he has on the boundary.

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