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Falcons vs. Dolphins 2016: Time, TV schedule and how to watch online


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By Jeanna Thomas

@jeannathomas on Aug 25, 2016, 5:00a +

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Extended playing time from Atlanta's and Miami's starters should be a highlight of this neutral site matchup.


The best news about the third week of the preseason is that it's the closest thing any exhibition game could be to a regular season matchup. So when the Atlanta Falcons travel to Orlando to take on the Miami Dolphins Thursday night, it should feature a heavy dose of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the starters from each team.

By the way, you did read that correctly -- the game is taking place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando instead of Miami. The NFL announced, on the heels of the decision to move the Pro Bowl to Orlando following the 2016 season, that this preseason matchup between the Falcons and Dolphins would also be moved to the neutral site.

Even though fans should expect to see most starters for at least the first half, not everyone will be in action. The Falcons have already confirmed that longtime kicker Matt Bryant, who ended up on injured reserve last season with a hamstring issue and has been held out of several practices, will not take the field against the Dolphins. Atlanta signed veteran kicker Shayne Graham Saturday, and Graham will take over kicking duties against the Dolphins.

Linebacker Vic Beasley and punter Matt Bosher have both been working their way back from injuries, but Dan Quinn anticipates both will play against Miami.

For the Dolphins, it's time to figure out the best course of action after losing center Mike Pouncey for the remainder of the preseason with a hip injury. Anthony Steen, a former guard, will step up and play center in a game for the first time in his NFL career. The Dolphins will also be missing second-round cornerback Xavien Howard on Thursday.

Atlanta's starting offense got off to a rocky start in Week 1 of the preseason against Washington, but bounced back against the Browns last week. The team struggled last season, particularly in the red zone, as a result of adapting to Kyle Shanahan's offense, and extended playing time against the Dolphins should provide a better sense of how the unit has settled into that scheme over the course of this offseason. Letting Matt Ryan and company get into a rhythm with more snaps should also help.

The biggest issue for Atlanta's defense is, and has been, the pass rush, and the Dolphins' opponents have sacked Miami's quarterbacks seven times so far in two preseason games. It presents an opportunity for the Falcons to generate some pressure on Ryan Tannehill and show some improvement in this area.

Miami's offense improved against the Cowboys in Week 2 after a lackluster preseason opener against the Giants. The Tannehill to Kenny Stills connection was solid, with Tannehill hitting Stills for touchdowns twice in five offensive series. First-round offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil got the start last week against the Cowboys, and he should be out there with the starters once again against the Falcons.

For the Dolphins' defense, players like Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman present a real challenge, because this unit has had tackling issues. Against the Cowboys, Miami gave up 433 yards of total offense, 300 of which came in the first half. There were many missed tackles en route to a 41-14 loss to Dallas, and Atlanta's explosive players will take advantage if the Dolphins don't tighten up for Week 3.






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