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Five keys for Falcons Thursday night.


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Here are five things to watch for in the Falcons’ exhibition game against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night at the Georgia Dome:

The play of the cornerbacks: The Falcons acquired cornerback Tye Hill from St. Louis on Tuesday after the starters played poorly against San Diego on Saturday. Hill is not expected to play. Starters Chris Houston and Brent Grimes will get a decent test from the strong-armed Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to the playoffs last season as a rookie. Also, rookie Christopher Owens and nickel back Chevis Jackson will get plenty of action and a chance to show if they should be included in the competition for starting cornerback.

The battle for the third quarterback: The Falcons have not announced their rotation for the game, but D.J. Shockley and rookie John Parker Wilson figure to get most of the action in a battle to determine the No. 3 quarterback spot. Shockley has shown flashes, but his overall play has not been stellar enough to dismiss Wilson from the competition. Matt Ryan will start and play briefly.

The rotation among defensive ends: Jamaal Anderson started the opener, but Chauncey Davis has started the past two games. The Falcons are still probing and hoping to find someone to rush the passer opposite John Abraham. Anderson has played better coming off the bench and is not conceding the starting position that he has held since he was taken with the No. 8 pick in the 2007 draft. Also, Kroy Biermann and rookie Lawrence Sidbury are worth keeping an eye on.

Punt returner: If Grimes is not able to hold on to his starting cornerback spot, then look for him to resurface in the punt-returning derby. He was a stellar returner in college. He hasn’t gotten more of an opportunity because of his status as a starter. Eric Weems and Chandler Williams have handled most of the punt-return chores, with Weems appearing to have an edge to win that roster spot.

Coverage units: The Falcons are taking extra pride in their coverage units, especially after setting the NFL mark for fewest punt-return yards allowed (49) in a 16-game season. This is where some players will be trying to make the team. A couple of players to watch in coverage are linebackers Spencer Adkins and Robert James. Helping on special teams and providing depth appears to be their path to a roster spot.

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Here are five things to watch for in the Falcons’ exhibition game against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night at the Georgia Dome

The play of the cornerbacks: The Falcons acquired cornerback Tye Hill from St. Louis on Tuesday after the starters played poorly against San Diego on Saturday. Hill is not expected to play. Starters Chris Houston and Brent Grimes will get a decent test from the strong-armed Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to the playoffs last season as a rookie. Also, rookie Christopher Owens and nickel back Chevis Jackson will get plenty of action and a chance to show if they should be included in the competition for starting cornerback.

The battle for the third quarterback: The Falcons have not announced their rotation for the game, but D.J. Shockley and rookie John Parker Wilson figure to get most of the action in a battle to determine the No. 3 quarterback spot. Shockley has shown flashes, but his overall play has not been stellar enough to dismiss Wilson from the competition. Matt Ryan will start and play briefly.

The rotation among defensive ends: Jamaal Anderson started the opener, but Chauncey Davis has started the past two games. The Falcons are still probing and hoping to find someone to rush the passer opposite John Abraham. Anderson has played better coming off the bench and is not conceding the starting position that he has held since he was taken with the No. 8 pick in the 2007 draft. Also, Kroy Biermann and rookie Lawrence Sidbury are worth keeping an eye on.

Punt returner: If Grimes is not able to hold on to his starting cornerback spot, then look for him to resurface in the punt-returning derby. He was a stellar returner in college. He hasn’t gotten more of an opportunity because of his status as a starter. Eric Weems and Chandler Williams have handled most of the punt-return chores, with Weems appearing to have an edge to win that roster spot.

Coverage units: The Falcons are taking extra pride in their coverage units, especially after setting the NFL mark for fewest punt-return yards allowed (49) in a 16-game season. This is where some players will be trying to make the team. A couple of players to watch in coverage are linebackers Spencer Adkins and Robert James. Helping on special teams and providing depth appears to be their path to a roster spot.

Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzales sitting on the bench

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