Atlanta Falcons preseason guide: What to watch

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Aug 1, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons players including inside linebacker Paul Worrilow (55) get instructions during a punt block drill on the field during training camp at the Flowery Branch Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


Defense is the most intriguing part of the Falcons offseason due to the major makeover the unit has received. Can Dan Quinn turn around a defense that was the NFL’s worst last term?

That is his greatest challenge, but one he seems up to. Entering his first preseason, there are a number of questions on the defensive side of the football.

What are the early impressions of the pass rush?

This is arguably the most important question in preseason for the Falcons. If the pass rush performs as it did in 2015, we can forget about the playoffs.

We’re not going to see much in terms of scheme here, but what we will get to see is how players perform and whether they can beat their man on the way to the quarterback.

A lot of eyes will be on rookie Vic Beasley Jr. as well as free agent acquisitions Brooks Reed and Justin Durant. How much playing time this trio receives in preseason is unknown, but they will be expected to perform well when they are on the field.

Preseason will also give an opportunity for young players on the bubble of the roster to make an impact. Keep an eye on this one.

Who starts at corner?

Training camp may be young, but Robert Alford looks like he will start the season at cornerback with Desmond Trufant, which would limit rookie Jalen Collins’ game time at first.

What will be interesting in each preseason game is to see who starts the game at corner, and also how well the young players like Collins perform when they are given their opportunity. Right now, it looks like the rookie will be used in nickel and dime situations primarily at first in the regular season, but it will be interesting to see how he does outside in preseason.

How has Quinn changed the defense?

Dan Quinn has echoed the words ‘fast and physical’ throughout this offseason in regards to how he wants the Falcons defense playing.

We won’t see too much schematically on defense, but we will be able to see what energy and speed they play with. Will the Falcons show some fast and physical play?

Preseason could be a teaser of what’s to come in the regular season.

Next: Changes on offense