Written by Brian Pohl
Atlanta, GA- With the 2018 NFL season quickly approaching, the Atlanta Falcons begin their preseason schedule with a trip up to MetLife stadium to take on the New York Jets.
While preseason games allow starters to begin to build a comfort level among teammates while in game action, it presents a great opportunity for coaches to see players that normally don’t see great playing time and how they perform in game speed.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn spoke about who the majority of playing time will be given to saying, “One of the things that we’re really committed to is playing the rookies and the first-year guys” he continued, “It’s such an important time to evaluate, we wouldn’t put them in if we didn’t think they would earn some play time here, during mini-camps and training camp to get ready. So, we’re totally committed to playing those guys and seeing what they look like.”
The stars will be out to play, however, as coach Quinn indicated that other than a couple of minor holdouts, the team is “ready to rock.”
The offense will be a key to watch with second-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian returning to the helm. Former MVP Matt Ryan returns to man the quarterback position for the Falcons for his eleventh NFL season, and Atlanta will look to continue the success of what has been one of the premier offensive squads in the entire league with Ryan under center.
Along with Ryan, the Falcons will give reps to running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, as well as wide receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu Sr. who will begin their preparations for the regular season that is less than a month away.
The person to look out for though is rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley, the Falcons first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Ridley has received positive reviews throughout camp, and this will be the rookie’s first opportunity to showcase his skills to the fan base.
Defensively, the Falcons have a young, but talented, group that will look to take the next step to become one of the best defensive squads in the NFL. Atlanta will look to their two 2018 Pro Bowl representatives, linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal, to step up as leaders of the defense to hold the young players surrounding them accountable if they are going to take the next step.
The player to key in on the defense against the Jets is second-year defensive end Takk McKinley, who has been limited at times throughout camp. According to coach Quinn though McKinley should be full-go against the Jets.
After a disappointing end to last season which saw Atlanta fall to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, the Falcons look to be a team on a mission heading into the 2018 season, and it all starts with the preparations beginning in the first preseason game.
The Falcons and Jets will kick off from MetLife Stadium at 7:30 pm on Friday and will be televised locally in Atlanta from channel CW69.