ATLANTA – Dee Alford is a cornerback by trade. A CB will show up next to his name on the roster, but the CFL standout who went to high school in Griffin, Ga. describes himself slightly different.
"I'm a playmaker," Alford said. "I played basketball all my life. So I see ball, I get ball. I just try to high point it. I want to be the first one to get my hands on it. That's what I do every time I step on the field. I try to find ways to impact the game and help out my team."
He certainly made an impact on the first preseason game in Detroit. He had eight tackles, allowed five catches for 33 yards on nine targets and had one athletic interception you've just got to see.
He read the route perfectly, undercut the Lions receiver and made the pick.
Alford called his shot somewhat before the Lions game in a conversation with A.J. Terrell.
"I told him I thought I was going to get my hands on the ball," Alford said. "He gave me even more confidence in that conversation, saying that I was good enough to go do it. He told me to do my job and have fun with the opportunity. That's what I did."
While most fans made note of his in-game interception, Alford's a player who flashes day in and day out. He's less concerned about a highlight than a body of work over the course of the spring and summer, which he hopes is strong enough to make the 53-man roster.
That would be a major accomplishment for someone coming from the CFL, but it's realistic after the way he has played and the volume of first team reps he's getting.
He made nice pass breakup in one-on-ones Monday night and intercepted Marcus Mariota on a deep shot down the right sideline.
"I have to keep showing up every single day," Alford said. "I want to make play every single day and prove that I can be an asset to the team."
We take a monochrome look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions in the first preseason game of 2022.
Falcons hold open practice at MBS
The Falcons practiced at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday evening, conducting a training-camp-style practice in front of a decent-sized contingent of fans. It wasn't a scrimmage and didn't feature much 11-on-11, but fans got to see some team periods, red zone and other situational work.
Most players stayed afterward to sign autographs and engage with fans in attendance.
"This was a big night," middle linebacker Rashaan Evans said. "It was the first time this preseason to get into the stadium and have a lot of fans come out and see us. We were able to get in a good tempo and see what it feels like to have a night game. That's important as we get ready for next week [when the Falcons play the N.Y. Jets on Monday night].
"I think every did pretty good, and it's clear that we're starting to build chemistry and get a good rhythm going."
Deion Jones update/non-update
Veteran inside linebacker Deion Jones remains on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from a reported offseason shoulder surgery. Smith didn't have a timetable for when Jones would start practicing again.
"He's in there every day, working," Smith said. "I don't give predictions and I'm not a doctor. But he's working all the time."
The Falcons have plenty of depth at inside linebacker, with Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker as primary options. Jones is obviously a three-down-type linebacker, and it will be interesting to see where he fits on the roster and in the rotation. There have also been reports that he could be traded for the right compensation package. Time will tell on all that.
Other news and notes
WR Bryan Edwards wasn't at Monday's practice, and for good reason. He was with his fiancé, who just gave birth to a child. He'll be back in action this week.
DL Marlon Davidson, LB Nick Kwiatkoski and CB Cornell Armstrong missed another day's work with undisclosed ailments. CB Darren Hall was back in action, as S Jaylinn Hawkins was limited in his work, with Dean Marlowe taking some of his reps with the first unit.
Cameron Batson, Avery Williams and Damiere Byrd were returning live punts on Monday, mostly from Seth Vernon.
Matt Hennessy was the first unit center on this padded practice, as he was in the preseason game against the Lions. He had on solid block, in particular, pushing his man back to create space for Damien Williams' long gain.