Position by Position
What to look for in the Preseason Games.
by Michael Chastain, just “lil ole” me
Matt Ryan is the starter, but who is going to be the number two and three quarterbacks? Will Schaub be the veteran back-up or will Renfree make the jump to “we will be ok if this guy has to start a game or two.” I would not be surprised if QB Josh McCown signs with Atlanta if he is released by Cleveland.
Can Tevin Coleman show enough in the Preseason to reclaim a significant number of touches from Devonta Freeman? Who will take command of the third running back spot? Last years undrafted rookie Terron Ward is going to have to fight to keep the third running back spot he held last season. Gus Johnson was a preseason standout with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, but was only signed to the practice squad. Rookie Brandon Wilds will have an opportunity to show what he can do behind an improved Falcons Offensive Line instead of the pumice he was running behind at South Carolina. Will newcomer Cyrus Gray be camp fodder or was he brought in to compete?
How will Matt Ryan and Moe Sanu mesh? Is Justin Hardy ready to make the leap? Will Aldrick Robinson revitalize his career with a return to Kyle Shanahan’s system? Can Devin Fuller do a better job catching the ball in the pros than he did in college? Will one of the other camp bodies step-up and take Nick Williams spot on the roster?
How quickly can Austin Hooper acclimate to the NFL game? Can Hooper finally be the replacement that Atlanta fans have been looking for since Tony Gonzalez retired? Will the Toilolo experiment finally be over? Do any of the other guys (D.J. Tialavea, Joshua Perkins, or Arthur Lynch) have a shot at the 53 man roster? Can Jacob Tamme, who had a career high in receiving yards (657) in 2015, still remain relevant? Is there going to be a heavy shift to Shanahan’s two tight end sets, does the team have the personnel to run them?
How big of a difference will Alex Mack make in the offensive line play? How much improvement will Andy Levitre, who supposedly played injured most of 2015, show after a year in the system. Who is leading in the battle for the right guard starting spot? Can sixth round selection Wes Schweitzer be one of Arthur Blanks mandated rookie starters? Will this be the year that Jake Mathews plays up to the quality of his family name?
How will all of the changing of positions pan out in 2016? What will the line rotation look like this year? Can Courtney Upshaw and Brooks Reed thrive in a return to the positions of their college days? Will Dwight Freeney still be able to sack the quarterback at age 36? Are there any rookie linemen that will play lights out and earn a spot on the 53 man roster?
Will either and/or both of the rookie linebackers play well enough to claim a starting job? Can Sean Weatherspoon finally play up to his first round status under the tutelage of Dan Quinn? Will Paul Worrilow fade or become an improved player? Who will be covering tight ends and running backs on pass plays and can they cover them? How well is Vic Beasley transitioning to linebacker? Is the camp hype surrounding De’Vondre Campbell warranted? How much will the defense play in the Nickle package and what affect will that have on the linebacking corps? Can one of the weakest positions on the team become a strength?
Three players to watch closely are Akeem King, CJ Goodwin, and Brian Poole. One or more of these guys will receive significant playing time while Jalen Collins sits out the first part of the season. What will Jalen Collins show in the preseason that we might have to look forward to upon his return? How much chemistry has developed between Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen?
Tevin Coleman and Devin Fuller will get shots at returning the ball. If either ore both prove successful will this be the writing on the wall for Eric Weems? Will Nick Rose be any competition for Matt Bryant?
What are you most looking forward to this Preseason?
Do you think the Preseason is a good indicator for what to expect in the regular season?
What position battle do you think is the most wide open?
Is there anything that was not included in the article that fans should keep an eye out for?