The Falcons had a tough Week 2 loss, and look to get back on track against the Cincinnati Bengals. These are key players to watch this week.
As hard as it is to swallow the Falcons facing their first 1-2 start since 2013, what has been even harder for all Falcons fans to face is the injury bug that has plagued the roster already. Entering week four of the season, the Dirty Birds have already become aware that they will have to move on with starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen. On top of that, they’re hoping that they can get Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones back sometime in the last quarter of the season.
However, the stinging loss to the Saints is behind the team now, and Dan Quinn said it best in his early-week press conference.
“We will not play the role of the victim with injuries,” he said. “I expect us to play well and we will.”
Up next, the Cincinnati Bengals come to town, a foe that Atlanta hasn’t met since 2014, when Mohamed Sanu was still catching passing from Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The Falcons need this win to stay on track for a hopeful third consecutive playoff appearance. To do so, they are going to need to rely on big games from key players on both sides of the ball.
Here are three Falcons players to watch in their week four contest against the Bengals.
This is about as obvious as you get with a choice. After going catch-less in week one against the Eagles, he tied the team lead in receiving yards in week two against the Panthers with 64 to go with his first NFL career touchdown. His breakout game however would come in last weeks game against the Saints, where he exploded for 146 yards and three touchdowns on just seven catches. Lined up on the opposite side of Julio Jones, its clear that he is typically not going to battle against Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincy’s best cornerback, and with the Bengals likely planning to double cover Julio Jones, Ridley will once again get some one-on-one opportunities which can make him a dangerous threat on the deep ball. Ryan has seemed to have found his chemistry already with the rookie receiver, making him primed for another big game.
The second-year defensive end came quickly onto the scene in the late stages of the 2017 season. Despite being limited on snaps, he made the most of his playing time, which earned him the starting role heading into the 2018 season. In his first two games, he was showing just how forceful he was, generating a sack in each game. He likely would have had at least one against the Saints as well had he not been held out of the game due to injury. Now that he is considered healthy and practicing again, look for him to try to disrupt Dalton’s pocket and get another sack or two.
This one is dependent on Devonta Freeman’s status for the game, as he has not played since week one. After only getting nine attempts on the ground in the Eagles game, Coleman has seen a majority of the carries in Freeman’s absence. Against the Panthers, he was able to compile 107 yards on 16 carries. He was not as productive against the Saints, though, only generating 33 yards on 15 attempts. The Bengals are ranked 26th in rush defense, meaning this is an area that the Falcons really need to capitalize on. Not only does an efficient run game open up their play-action ability, but a strong game from Coleman could keep the dangerous Bengals offense out of the game and keep the injury-riddled, inexperienced Falcons defense off the field.