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Five Things to Look for During WASvsATL


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Andrew Hirsh atlantafalcons.com



How Rookies Perform:The preseason opener will be the first NFL game for Atlanta’s talented pool of rookies. First-rounder Keanu Nealicon-article-link.gif may not dress due to a trunk injury, but Day 2 and 3 selections Deion Jonesicon-article-link.gif , Austin Hoopericon-article-link.gif , De’Vondre Campbell, Wes Schweitzericon-article-link.gif and Devin Fullericon-article-link.gif will likely see a lot of action at the Georgia Dome.

Then there are the undrafted players, all of whom know these matchups are an essential part of the job interview. The Rookie Club has set the bar high with a strong offseason. Now it’s time for them to take the next step and show they can perform under the bright lights.


Who Separates Himself from the Pack: Every preseason game offers depth players an opportunity to raise their stock. Robenson Therezieicon-article-link.gif did as much last summer by excelling in coverage; Nick Williamsicon-article-link.gif earned a spot with the Falcons after posting 157 receiving yards and 101 kick return yards in four exhibition games — both team-highs. Who will step up this year?


How Playing Time Will Be Allotted: As head coach Dan Quinn said Monday, playing time against Washington will differ based on position. Expect young linebackers, defensive backs and tight ends to be among those who get a lot of snaps.


What the Revamped Pass-Rush Looks Like: One area that’s been difficult to gauge throughout camp is the pass-rush. Because players don’t tackle their own quarterbacks during practice, we haven’t seen defenders wreak havoc in the backfield — at least not in the way they would in a game situation. That will change versus Washington. And with a deep rotation of ends and tackles, there will be many chances for noteworthy players to get after the QB.


Position Battles: 60 minutes of an actual game should provide some clarity on important position battles. How will the right guard options — Chris Chestericon-article-link.gif, Mike Personicon-article-link.gif, Schweitzer — fare? Will any of the return specialists break for a long run? How about the cornerbacks? Will any of the wide receivers make a strong case for himself? The answers to these questions figure to have a big impact on the next version of Atlanta’s depth chart.





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