Atlanta Falcons preseason guide: What to watch

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Dec 14, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) huddles with wide receiver Harry Douglas (83), wide receiver Devin Hester (17), tackle Jake Matthews (70), and tackle Ryan Schraeder (73) in the first quarter of their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Georgia Dome. The Steelers won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports


Offense has been the Falcons’ calling card for some time now, and this won’t be changing in 2015. Under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, fans are expecting big things on this side of the football.

Despite moving the ball seemingly at will in the air last term, the ground game struggled and will be under the microscope in camp and preseason.

Jun 17, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) runs the ball during minicamp at Falcons Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Who starts at running back?

It’s a fresh start at running back for the Atlanta Falcons after struggling on the ground in recent years. Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers have left, and it’s time for Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman to step up.

But who will be the starter?

This is a question we might not know the answer to until the regular season kicks off on September 14, but we will get some clues in preseason. My expectation is for Freeman to start preseason as the starter, but Coleman could leapfrog him on the depth chart before the regular season curtain raiser against the Eagles.

RELATED: Who wins the running back battle, Coleman or Freeman?

How balanced are the Falcons on offense?

The Falcons have been pass-happy on offense of late, but this could in line to change. Matt Ryan has praised Shanahan and spoke about the importance of being balanced:

“Anytime you can run the football and you can run it effectively is slows down the pass rush,” Ryan said. “That’s the goal for us, to be balanced on offense and to be able to get that run game going.”

We might get a glimpse of this in preseason.

Does Roddy White have competition for the No. 2 spot?

With Leonard Hankerson and Justin Hardy making strong starts to training camp, is Roddy White’s ownership of the No. 2 spot at receiver under threat?

This question won’t necessarily be answered in preseason, as White’s playing time will likely be limited. The veteran has had his knee drained recently, and will likely sit out of the majority of these games.

Opportunities will arise for Hankerson and Hardy to build chemistry with Ryan and make a case for promotion up the depth chart.

Next: Time for the rookies to step up