The Hall-of-Fame Game was more like a walkthrough, and pretty miserable to watch as well. The Falcons spent most of their time evaluating rookies and the backups to the backups… of the backups. It led to a mostly defensive 14-10 game, and you deserve a cookie if you made it all the way through.
Thursday, the Falcons will play their second of five preseason games against the Miami Dolphins. Dan Quinn said earlier this week that – due to injury – eight to ten Falcons will not be playing; which means most of the starters will be suiting up.
It’s essentially week one of the preseason, so I’m expecting that number to be at least ten rather than on the low side. Here is who we know will be missing.
Julio Jones– The star wide receiver will not be competing in any preseason games.
Deion Jones– Maybe we could see Jones in the preseason, but I don’t see any reason to push it, and he won’t be playing in this one.
Calvin Ridley– Ridley has been sidelined along with Jones all week. No reason to expect him to suit up Thursday.
Desmond Trufant– A back strain has kept Trufant out of practice. Dan Quinn said he is close to returning, but he won’t be on the field tomorrow night.
Kaleb McGary– After a recent heart operation, McGary won’t be participating in the preseason. The hope is that he can be ready for week one, but even that is a longshot.
Marcus Green– Green suffered a hamstring injury in the Hall-of-Fame Game. He did not return to practice this week, so signs point to him sitting this one out.
James Carpenter– A quad injury will keep the newly acquired offensive guard from competing tomorrow.
Ra’Shede Hageman– Hageman was also injured during the Hall-Of-Fame Game. It’s a groin injury, and he did not practice earlier this week. It is unlikely he plays against the Dolphins.
Duke Riley– Riley had a hip flexor injury and has been out since last week. It’s unknown whether he will be out on the field tomorrow, but we do know he needs to be.
Those are nine players that are doubtful or worse for tomorrow’s game. There has been no word on Ricardo Allen or Keanu Neal. They both appear physically capable of playing, but it will be up to the coaches whether they want to put them out there when three more preseason games are remaining. My gut says at least one of them sees the field, but either way, it will be sparingly.
Players to Watch
If Neal or Allen is suiting up, it is worth monitoring, but this is a list of players that might have a significant impact on the actual game, and in turn, climb depth charts.
Brian Hill– According to Quinn, there is no clear favorite for the backup running back job. Judging from how the carries were handed out, clearly they thought Hill was the one with the most to prove, and he answered the bell. He ran the ball 11 times for 57 yards and even caught a touchdown pass. With a couple more showings like that, there’s a chance he not only makes the roster but plays a role in the offense.
Qadree Ollison/Ito Smith– Neither of these two participated much last Thursday. That should change tomorrow as the running back competition behind Devonta Freeman officially begins. I still believe one of these players will land the backup job even after Hill’s productive night last week.
Christian Blake– The wide receiver is going to have a difficult time making the team with so many names in front of him, but he’s had a fantastic camp and was the most effective receiver on the field a week ago.
Russell Gage– Gage is one of those receivers Blake is behind. He’s already penciled in to make the roster, but I want to see if he can take over the role as the fourth wide receiver after a stellar offseason.
John Cominsky– After being the defensive star of the Hall-Of-Fame Game, the John Cominsky hype train tripled in size. He’s big; he’s physical. Now, let’s see if Cominsky can do it as he goes up against better and better competition. It would be tremendous if he can play a role on the defensive line as a rookie.
Kendall Sheffield/Jordan Miller– Ricardo Allen called out Kendall Sheffield as a player who is making a name for himself in the preseason. He performed admirably in the Hall-of-Fame game, recording five tackles and a forced fumble on the final play of the half. Sheffield is fast and physical; it should not take him very long to find himself on the field in a Dan Quinn defense.
Jordan Miller was a sixth-round pick out of Washington, and Quinn likes his potential. He will likely need to bulk up and become more physical before he sees much playing time, but the Falcons are thin at cornerback. If an injury, or god forbid, two of them occur in the secondary; Miller will become an integral piece to the defense.
Jamon Brown– With James Carpenter likely to miss the game, its the perfect opportunity for Jamon Brown to show that he deserves to be the starting left guard. Or he could prove the exact opposite.