The Atlanta Falcons play a game against another team for the first time in 223 days tonight when the Kansas City Chiefs come to Atlanta. I know it’s the preseason but the Chiefs are not a good team. If the Falcons are Super Bowl-caliber, I expect the first few series to be dominated by Atlanta. I know the Falcons will be missing around 10 players but this is a team they should dominate. I don’t care about the final score but the first quarter score should be 14-0.
Now that I have that off my chest, on to the good stuff. It’s been seven months since we’ve seen the Falcons suit up and though the starters won’t see more than a series or two, there are a few things I’ll be keeping an eye on. Hit the jump for preseason breakdowns. Because you demand it.
Four Things I’ll be Watching
The Receiving Corp – I know what I’m getting with Roddy White but the real question is how will the No. 2 spot be filled without Michael Jenkins. Brian Finneran has been working with the first-team and will get the start vs. the Chiefs. This is good news for Finn because he was not a lock to make the team before Jenks’ injury but now his experience may take a spot away from one of the young guys. The likely casualty? Eric Weems. If he doesn’t win the return duties, he’ll be cut. However, if he holds off Dominique Franks and Harry Douglas then the Falcons could keep six receivers giving them a lineup of White, Jenkins, Douglas, Finneran, Kerry Meier and Weems.
The Rookies - Obviously this will the first “real” action any of the rookies will see and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll respond when the lights in the dome are on. Sean Weatherspoon is the only rookie who will start as he takes over for the injured Mike Peterson. Franks, Corey Peters and Mike Johnson will see a lot of time in backup roles and Shann (Shann-Wow!) Schillinger, Joe Hawley and Kerry Meier will all be part of the rotation at various points. I’m actually the most curious about Schillinger and Hawley since – as of now – I don’t think they will make the team. Their performance in the preseason will go along way towards cementing their status on the 53-man roster.
The Defense – Everyone’s favorite punching bag, Jamaal Anderson, gets the start at DE again. Head coach Mike Smith has said he’ll play DE in base packages but the entire d-line will be a fluid rotation with no one player getting more than about 40 snaps. Surprisingly, Kroy Biermann is listed as the third-string DE. Biermann has been a favorite to start opposite John Abraham but the official depth chart released by the Falcons has him buried behind Anderson and Chauncey Davis. With Jonathan Babineaux’s suspension, Corey Peters could get the starting nod in week one. I’ll be watching to see if he’s able to get a push up the middle and how he handles NFL lineman who aren’t going “thud” speed. Finally, how will Chevis Jackson look? I think he’s the odd man out in the secondary and he’ll need to have a solid preseason in order to make the team. He’ll see plenty of time tonight.
The Kicking Game – The Falcons are searching for a consistent kicker and both Matt Bryant and Steven Haushcka should see time tonight. I would like to see Steven Hauschka win the the job but I don’t think he will. He’s got a strong leg and he’s young. The Falcons won’t have to go out and find another kicker for many years if Hauschka is made the starter. Having said that, Bryant is the leader in the clubhouse and it’s his job to lose.
Will you be watching?
What will you be looking for? What are your expectations for this game? Does getting a win in the preseason matter? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or start the conversation on Twitter.