Goldson's Debut:Acquired last weekend, strong safety Dashon Goldson has dedicated himself to learning the playbook and will dress on Thursday. The two-time Pro Bowler, who's known for his hard-hitting nature, can endear himself to the coaching staff by playing an aggressive brand of football against Jacksonville.
"Regarding Dashon, it wasn't a move that we were anticipating, but when the injuries happen we make some adjustments, you improvise and put the best plan together," head coach Dan Quinn said. "Fortunately for us, Dashon wanted to be a part of this group, so we're fortunate to have him here."
Special Teams: Matt Bryant and Shayne Graham are both expected to kick versus the Jaguars. Bryant missed the last two contests with muscle tightness, but has looked sharp at practice; Graham made both of his field goal attempts last week, one coming from 53 yards out. Both are highly regarded options and have earned their coach's trust.
It'll also be worth monitoring who fares well on the kickoff/punt units. For rookies and veterans alike, special teams is often where roster spots are won this time of year.
"That's the truth. We really want to make special teams a priority and give it its due and respect," Quinn said. "It's all hands on deck."
The Run Game: Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman likely won't play much, and Brandon Wilds (knee) has been ruled out, so count on Terron Ward to get a lot of reps. The second-year pro missed the first three exhibition games with an ankle injury but has looked good in practice this week, according to Quinn.
Position Battles: This matchup could have a big impact on the Week 1 depth chart. Chris Chester and Wes Schweitzer will continue to battle at right guard; a group of young corners will try to earn snaps in the nickel defense; wide receivers will showcase their talents on offense and special teams, as will some of the tight ends.
Jobs will be on the line, too, and with Atlanta's starters expected to play very little (if at all), those fighting to stick around will have plenty of chances to contribute.
"There are some good evaluations to be had here in this last game that involve last spots on the roster and practice squad opportunities, so it's a really fun night for the guys. You'll be seeing some guys that you haven't seen a lot of going for it tonight," Quinn said.
"That's why it's such a fun night for us as coaches to see those guys and their competitiveness that shows up Thursday night. You get to see who wants to go for it in the very biggest way so it's another opportunity to shine and do that so we're pumped for the guys."
Red Zone Offense: The Falcons' red zone troubles continued last Thursday when Matt Ryan threw a first-quarter interception at the goal line. The first-team offense won't get many shots against the Jags, but converting inside the 20 would be a perfect way for that group to wrap up the preseason.
"We had a big session in the red zone today that was really an area of emphasis that we could do better," Quinn said Tuesday. "We wanted to shine a light right on that and find the ways we can do that better. We spent a lot of time on that today. That's kind of what you do when you have problems, you address them and go to work on it."