The Falcons decided not to play their starters for the most part, but the couple that they did looked very impressive.
Let’s start with Dee Alford. There’s been a lot of talk about rookie fourth-round pick Clark Phillips. He’s had a fantastic training camp and will compete for the starting nickel position. However, especially after Phillips’ injury, which was not deemed serious, I would give the edge to the more experienced Alford.
Alford came over from the Canadian Football League after winning the Grey Cup in 2021, signing a reserve/futures contract with the Falcons in 2022. Given Atlanta’s thin cornerback room and the number of injuries they suffered, he was eventually thrust into a starting role and performed admirably.
That success has continued into training camp, and he made several big plays on Friday against the Dolphins, breaking up a critical pass on third down and returning a punt for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Alford will be a critical piece to the Falcons in multiple facets, and he’s one of the primary reasons fans should be excited about the depth of the cornerback room.
The other notable performance by a potential starter was slot specialist Scotty Miller. He’ll be the team’s third wide receiver, and his role is clear, which stood out on Friday night. Miller only played a couple of series and finished the night with one catch for nine yards, but it was a critical reception on third down. He also caught a short pass soon after on third down and forced a couple of defenders to miss, turning it into a chunk play, but it was called back. It wasn’t much, but his ability to find holes in the defense and elusiveness was on display. That’s what he’ll bring to the Falcons in 2023.
It’s only the first preseason contest, and most of the starters for both teams did not play, but there was a lot to like from the Falcons. There’s positive momentum building around this team, and for the first time in forever, there’s quality depth in the building. That cannot be understated, as injuries will arise continuously throughout the season.
Photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire