Tomorrow is the biggest game of the preseason. The starters will play throughout, possibly, three quarters. It will be the closest to real game situation as it gets. Not only are the starters playing the majority of the game, but they are actually game planning for this one. This game will tell us much more than the last two. Here are some things to look for:
Tony Gonzalez is back and will play Thursday night. Chase Coffman and Levine Toilolo filled in nicely, but no one on this roster really comes close to Gonzalez. He’s a red zone threat and an easy first down target at all times. Him in the slot and Julio on the outside makes the offense very deadly. Even without Roddy White.
The running game is very impressive early. At least it was against the Ravens. It still remains unknown if the Falcons can run the ball similar to last game every time or if it was a fluke. I like to think the former, but with a set game plan, we’ll get to see how Atlanta uses the run game with its high powered passing game to an advantage.
Run Defense on the other hand is another important thing to look for. The NFC championship wasn’t won through the air; it was won on the ground. The Falcons Defense had very hard times stopping the run and needs to keep up the good work. Against Chris Johnson and a very strong Titans running game, it’ll be monumentally important to stop the run early. If there is a new scheme that Nolan planned up to stop the run, this will be the best time to see it.
Trufant and Alford are still fighting for playing time. By now I think it’s known that Trufant is the starter, but Alford will see a lot of playing time (or not so much) depending on how good he performs in a real game-time situation. If these young guys and really show what they’re made of and impress, I’ll see a lot of relieving sighs from Falcons fans far and wide.
The punt returner needs to be decided soon. Alford is a good candidate, but he needs to separate himself from the rest of the depth immediately. Otherwise Franks or Douglas will be stuck fair catching for half of the season.
Lamar Holmes seems to be holding up well but he’ll have his hands full this game. Playing the majority of the game and being a key in the run game, he has to show up.
This should be a fun game to watch.