Atlanta Falcons vs Tennessee Titans: Full Game Preview

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Aug 8, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford (23) and strong safety William Moore (25) during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

What to watch

So with all the action going on in the Georgia Dome, what should be watching out for? There has been plenty of changes throughout the roster this offseason, so naturally analyzing debutants performances is a place to start. Here are three things you should look out for in this game.

How is the new-look defense shaping up?

We won’t see much schematically from Dan Quinn and the Atlanta defense, but we will get an early indication on how individual players are looking in their roles. The term ‘fast and physical’ has been used to describe the vision for the entire team, particularly on defense. We have heard it a lot this offseason, hey, I’ve said it twice in this article already.

With Desmond Trufant sidelined, Robert Alford will get an opportunity at cornerback with Jalen Collins, and there will also be chances for Phillip Adams, Dezmen Southward and Kevin White.

Also worth watching is the pass rush. The Falcons mustered just 22 sacks put together last season, while Justin Houston reached that number single-handedly in Kansas City. Let’s see how often they break through the Titans offensive line tonight.

The rookies

This is the first NFL game for a number of players, so getting to see them in action is worth checking out. First round pick Vic Beasley Jr. will be looking to give us a taste of his potential rushing the passer, Jalen Collins will want to take his opportunity at cornerback with Trufant ailing.

Justin Hardy impressed at the Friday Night Lights event, and will now get a chance to make a case for more playing time himself. Fifth-rounder Grady Jarrett will get a chance to show his value on the defensive line, too.

The Titans will likely be giving a debut to second overall pick Marcus Mariota, too.

How balanced are the Falcons on offense?

An aim for new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is to achieve balance on offense. The Falcons have been a pass-happy team in recent years, and this could be set to change in 2015. The issue here is that both Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman are sidelined with hamstring injuries, so Shanahan might be more inclined to throw the football tonight.

In the backfield will be Antone Smith, Terron Ward, Jerome Smith and Michael Ford as they all battle for roster spots. Antone Smith has looked good and is currently the third-string back in the most recent depth chart.

Next: Who to watch