What to look for in Falcons – Jets exhibition game tonight

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The Falcons are set to take on the Jets in the teams’ second exhibition game on Monday night. The two teams had joint practices leading up to tonight’s preseason game, and by all accounts, the Jets ‘won’ them. It’s just practice, though. There are no schematics, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, the preseason is similar, so the results may be discouraging for Falcons fans tonight.

Receiver Competition

Falcons No. 8 overall pick Drake London traveled with the team to New York but didn’t practice because of a knee injury, and he’s likely to be out until the regular-season opener against the Saints. KhaDarel HodgeDamiere ByrdGeronimo AllisonFrank Darby and Auden Tate are competing for only a few spots. Jared Bernhardt is a personal favorite who caught the go-ahead touchdown in the Lions preseason matchup, and he’s impressed against the Jets in joint practices.

Quarterback play

Marcus Mariota isn’t in danger of losing his starting job, but it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to a rough week of joint practices against the Jets. He led Atlanta to a touchdown drive against the Lions in the first preseason game with 23 rush yards and 36 passing yards. It’s not important what his stat line looks like; Mariota needs to build confidence as a starter for the first time in a while, and that’s what I’ll be looking for tonight. Desmond Ridder looked decent in his season debut against Detroit, but there were things he could’ve done better. Much like Mariota, fans should look for Ridder to gain confidence and be more decisive in the pocket.

Dee Alford

A former CFL standout doing his best to make the Falcons’ final 53-man roster. Alford collected eight tackles and had one very impressive interception during the preseason opener against the Lions. He is battling for one of the reserve spots behind Terrell and Casey Hayward but continues to make plays. His stock is rising… fast. In the Falcons’ open practice at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Monday, Alford impressed once again, intercepting a Marcus Mariota pass. Be sure to look out for Alford as he makes quite the case to be on the final 53-man roster.

Ta’Quon Graham

The Falcons need someone to step up along the interior defensive line next to Grady Jarrett, and second-year defender Ta’Quon Graham seems to be making the most out of his opportunity. He looked quick and forceful in the preseason game against the Lions, and that success has carried over in practice. Arthur Smith even took notice of how good of a camp Graham’s had.

“He’s had a good camp,” Smith said. “Obviously, we want to see that on Sundays, but he looks like he has made a significant leap. Hopefully, he shows up in the games.”

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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