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Critical Practices to Come Before Season Opener

The Falcons face the Jaguars on Thursday, and despite it being an important preseason game, starters will most likely not get much playing time. Because of this, the practices left before the start of the regular season are critical.

With their third straight preseason loss on Saturday, the team realizes they have a lot to work on before the regular season gets started, so they're planning to use the practice time that is left to their advantage.

"They're huge," said quarterback Matt Ryan of their practices before the team faces the Saints on Sept. 8. "I'm a big believer in preparation. That's, to me, the formula for success. You have to prepare really well."

Going into this week, the team took the positives and negatives from their performance Saturday to figure out the areas that needed the most work. This included working on their timing and their protection, but especially their performance in the red zone.

Both Ryan and running back Steven Jackson pointed out that their production in the red zone has to improve. As Jackson noted, they can put together drives but are having trouble as a unit finishing them.

"That's something that we have to improve on and work hard on in the next two weeks," Ryan said. "So that we hit the ground running when we get to the regular season."

Although the red zone is a major area of improvement for the team, the main focus remains that overall execution can keep improving so that they continue to get better as a football team.

"(Sunday marked) 14 days from the season opener," Jackson said. "We have to definitely take advantage of all practice opportunities to prepare for different looks that we're expecting to see going into the season and continue to just execute the offense."

Despite some troubles that the team may have had this preseason, wide receiver Julio Jones is confident that they'll get this straightened out by the regular season. This can be done by not looking too far ahead and focusing solely on Jacksonville for now to take one game at a time.

Still, once the regular season does arrive the confidence remains that the team will take what they've learned during their practices and the preseason to perform well the rest of the season.

"I'm very confident. You can't show too much during the preseason," Jones said. "There's no telling what other teams do during the preseason but we know what we do here. When the season gets going, I feel very confident."

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