The Falcons’ second exhibition game of 2016, a 24-13 win over the Browns, included plenty of encouraging moments from those battling for roster spots. Here’s a look at five players who helped their cause against the Browns.
Brian Poole: Poole has made a strong case to not only make the roster, but be the team’s starting nickelback. The college free agent signing has impressed coaches and Dimitroff with his aggressive playing style, and in Atlanta’s first preseason game, he blended that intensity with technically sound football.
Ben Garland: Garland has played 87 snaps thus far in the preseason, more than all but three offensive players, according to NFL Game Stats and Information. In that time, the veteran center looked reliable enough to be serve as Alex Mack’s backup in 2016. Garland “has totally jumped out to us in a big way,” Quinn said on Aug. 16 – a testament to how far he’s come since joining the practice squad last September.
Brandon Wilds: With a touchdown in each of his first two NFL games, Wilds is making a big push for the Falcons’ No. 3 RB job. He’s tallied 75 yards on 18 carries, a 4.2 average, and made waves with a 32-yard score versus the Browns. He can add value on special teams, as well, especially with a 6-foot, 220-pound frame and good speed.
Matt Simms: It’s unclear if the Falcons will keep two or three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, but Simms made a strong push for the No. 3 spot against Cleveland. After playing sparingly in the preseason opener, the former Tennessee Vol completed 10 of 13 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown – good for a 135.4 passer rating. Similar performances in Weeks 3 and 4 of the exhibition schedule could earn him a job behind Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub.
Joey Mbu: Mbu made noise in Week 2 of the preseason by sacking Josh McCown in the third quarter. The defensive tackle worked his way onto the active roster last season and played well in limited snaps, earning a tackle for loss during Atlanta’s first matchup with Carolina. As one of the biggest players on the roster (6-foot-3, 310 pounds), Mbu could develop into an imposing presence along the defensive line.