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Bair Mail: Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage vs. Miami corners, Kyle Pitts and dismissing preseason paranoia

The importance of Falcons-Dolphins joint practices, backup quarterback issues were hot topics in Friday's mailbag


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Falcons are now in South Florida, officially on a break from training camp's daily grind. They'll start an important stretch of their preseason on Wednesday, with the first of two joint practices against the Dolphins leading up to an exhibition game between the teams.

As far as football in August goes, this is a big deal. Or at least a big opportunity.

There's a great chance to accelerate development here and take a clear picture of where the team stands with a few weeks left before the regular season.

We'll document this stretch in detail, including with this delivery of Bair Mail, despite the fact many of you want to discuss last week's 23-3 loss to Tennessee. We'll do it somewhat because this is a fan space, but we won't look too far back when we should have eyes on the horizon.

As Bill Belichick might say, we're on to Miami.

So let's do get to a few inquiries in Wednesday's mailbag.

Tuu Lavulo from Inglewood, Calif

Long time Falcons fan from California since the OG Dirty Bird days! Any specific matchups that you're looking forward to this week with the joint practices coming up?

Bair: I can think of a few. The most best and most obvious: Falcons receivers vs. Dolphins cornerbacks. Miami has some highly-paid, highly-talented cover men in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Matching them up with Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage is a great matchup and test for quarterback Matt Ryan, who must be precise to complete passes against those guys.


Ridley has been awesome this camp, ready to step up as a leader and a truly dominant football player. His routes are so precise. It's simply fun to watch him work. Same with Gage, who seems ready for a true breakout year. We'll see Kyle Pitts working against them as well, which should be fun.

Aaron Grady from Atlanta, Ga.

You're off to a great start with the content that you have put on here so far!!! My question is if AJ McCarron struggles in the joint practices do you think the conversation is I'm going to increase of Felipe franks becoming our back up?

Bair: Appreciate the kind words, Aaron. Have enjoyed the heck out of covering the Falcons and engaging with the fan base in this forum. I understand why y'all are worried about the backup quarterback situation. AJ McCarron has been an obvious No. 2 since he signed here, but his initial preseason performance has made him a less attractive backup option.

Everyone's on the Feleipe Franks train lately after he showed some speed in open space, but let's not forget he was 2-for-19 passing for 16 yards. That ain't gonna cut it, either. And, honestly, Franks hasn't been stellar in camp practices.

I think it remains AJ's job to lose, though another bad showing may have the coaches looking outside the organization for another option. That isn't ideal at this stage, considering how much time McCarron's already put into the offense. It is fair to say the Falcons shouldn't feel comfortable with quarterback on the roster taking meaningful snaps should Matt Ryan become unavailable.

JC Daniel from Savannah, Ga.

We play horrible at home and in the preseason. There is a thing called momentum, and we haven't had it since 28-3. We come out of the gates with a new coach and with the exception of [Marlon] Davidson and [Javian] Hawkins play uninspired football. Ryan has no game chemistry with Pitts, we have no Julio [Jones], and we have no running game. It is like our powers at be believe it will just magically appear like it did in 2016. THIS WAS THE WORST POSSIBLE START FOR THIS YEAR, AND I AM DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE TEAM ATTITUDE THAT WAS EXHIBITED.

Bair: Somebody make sure nuclear launch codes are under lock and key. There are many clearly thinking the world's going to end after one preseason game. I mean, just look at that string of ALL-CAPS. That's show I know you all mean business, SERIOUS BUSINESS.

I think the team attitude was just fine. So was the effort. Execution of those down on the depth chart? Not so great. While you all didn't see much game chemistry, I've seen every second of Falcons practice this camp. Chemistry between Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts is coming along great. The younger players are improving even if you didn't see it against Tennessee, even if you don't see it in Miami. Don't forget that this is preseason. The scores don't matter.

Brad Senecal from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Do you see Kyle Pitts as more of an option to work in the slot with Hayden Hurst getting reps on the line as a tight end? I know that the idea is for Arthur Smith to get the most out of the two, which I think will be most beneficial for the offense. Is the a chance that Pitts works a bit off the line?

Bair: Let's put it this way: Kyle Pitts moving around the formation so much finding him will turn into a Where's Waldo. Actually, after freestyling that last sentence, I think we're on to something. Why? It feels like he's never in the same spot twice. We could make a Kyle Pitts version of that book, with search-and-find element kids would love. Let's turn that concept into a book deal. Ready? Go.

In all seriousness, Brad, Pitts is going to move all over the map. So will Hurst, to a lesser extent, though the Falcons could line up with multiple tight ends regularly and end up in all types of whacky formations. That's how versatile Pitts and Hurst are, which plays right into Arthur Smith's scheme.

Call for questions

The Falcons will be done with both joint practices before the net mailbag, so there will be plenty to talk about have those sessions are done. Get your questions in now by clicking this link.

Take a look at some of the best Falcons fits in this gallery, presented by Delta. The team heads to Miami for joint practices with the Dolphins before Preseason Week 2 on Saturday.

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