Falcons: Three things to watch for tonight

John and Hugh
August 10, 2018 - 8:05 am

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The Atlanta Falcons get their first action of the preseason as they'll match up with the New York Jets tonight at MetLife Stadium. This will be the first chance we'll see rookies WR Calvin Ridley, CB Isaiah Oliver and DT Deadrin Senat, among others, in live game action.

While the starters are only expected to play a few snaps, some not at all, there will still be plenty to watch for.

John Fricke's 3 things to watch:

1. New helmet rule - We've already seen our fair share of flags from NFL referees through the first 13 games of the preseason applying the new helmet ruled. Without having a clear cut targeting rule, the new helmet rule seems to be all up to interpretation. John wants the league to treat the new rule as they do in college. Did a player have intent instead of just bumping heads? Hugh mentions it should also include defenseless receivers. How will the Falcons handle it?

2. Special teams, KR/PR and coverage units (new kickoff rule): The Falcons struggled with kickoff coverage on special teams last season. There was an emphasis this offseason on improving starting field position and both kickoff/punt coverage. Without a running start due to the new kick-off rule, we'll get our first chance to see the progress of special teams. 

3. Wide-receivers beyond the Big 3: Julio Jones, Mohamad Sanu and Calvin Ridley seemingly are locks for the receiver position. But which player will be that fourth guy; Justin Hardy, Reggie Davis, Marvin Hall, and Russell Gage)?


Hugh Douglas' 3 things to watch:

1. Depth of defense - The one player Hugh is interested to see is LB Duke Riley. The Falcons released their first depth chart of the preseason earlier this week, listing Riley back as a starter. After he struggled in his rookie season, missing eight of 31 tackle attempts, the pressure is on Riley heading into this season.

2. Edge at fullback - The Falcons have an opening at fullback and currently have two guys on the roster to fill that spot: Ricky Ortiz and Luke McNitt. With the premise that the team will only keep one fullback on the 60-man roster, the pressure is on to perform during the preseason.

3. Jake Matthews backup - The Falcons and left tackle Jake Matthews agreed to a five-year extension reportedly worth $75 million. It's safe to say his job is safe. But what happens if the injury bug bites, not only Matthews but any starter on the offensive line. How much depth do the Falcons have on their offensive line.