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5 Players Who Stood Out in the Preseason

Aldrick Robinson:Robinson put an exclamation point on his stellar preseason Thursday night by hauling in a one-handed, highlight reel catch for a 12-yard gain. With blazing straight-line speed, reliable hands and lots of experience in Kyle Shanahan's offense, the 27-year-old can give Atlanta the kind of vertical threat it needs to stretch the field more often in 2016.

He finished with nine receptions for 223 yards during the exhibition schedule.

J.D. McKissic: One of the summer's biggest surprises, McKissic turned heads with a number of big plays on special teams — including a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown versus Washington. He proved that highlight wasn't a fluke two weeks later when he ran another kickoff 49 yards downfield, setting up a Shayne Graham field goal. The college free agent signing out of Arkansas State finished preseason with 233 total return yards.

McKissic added value on offense as well, notching eight catches for 79 receiving yards.

"I think I played pretty good," McKissic said. "I kind of just tried to show the coaches that I can help out. Just tried to show this team I can help them out. I think I fit in perfectly (with the offense). I feel like I can help out in a lot of ways. I had an opportunity to make a few plays. Just to be here, man, at the end of the day, I'm blessed. Whatever happens, happens."

De'Vondre Campbell: Not often does a fourth-round pick work his way into a starting job before his first regular season game. But Campbell is not an average fourth-rounder. The rookie linebacker has garnered rave reviews with his crisp tackling, coverage skills and playbook acumen — all of which he displayed on a consistent basis. Don't be surprised if he's listed as the No. 1 weakside linebacker on Atlanta's next version of the depth chart.

"I would say I did pretty good," Campbell said. "I messed up a couple things; typical rookie preseason. But I feel like I'm in a good position and just personally I feel like I did really good, honestly."

Ben Garland: Signed to a practice squad last fall, Garland has become a reliable center who, thanks to his lateral quickness and disciplined play, is a good fit in Atlanta's system. The former defensive lineman has "totally jumped out to us in a big way," head coach Dan Quinn said. Garland played extensively in the past month and looks poised to back up Alex Mack at center.

Matt Simms: In three preseason games, Simms completed 20 of 39 passes for 353 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. (Neither of those picks were his fault, as each bounced off the receiver's hands.) Simms flashed his speed, too, rushing for 42 yards on eight carries.

The ex-Tennessee Vol is not guaranteed a spot on the team — Quinn said the decision to carry two or three QBs depends on a host of factors — but there's no doubt he's made a strong case to stick around.

"I'm just happy that I got a chance to play tonight and showcase my skills," he said after earning a victory over the Jaguars. "I love being a Falcon. I love everything we have going on here. I love being a part of this brotherhood. But at the same, time too, it's a business, and I understand that. So we'll see how it works out. But I've really loved every minute of this experience."

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