FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons' third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday should be a memorable occasion. It will be the first NFL game played inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta's new one-of-a-kind stadium is truly a sight to behold, and the team can't wait to get back in front of the home-town crowd.
"Man, we're pumped to see this new stadium and be in front of our crowd," coach Dan Quinn said during his press conference on Tuesday.
After two exhibition games on the road, Saturday's matchup with the Cardinals will give the Falcons a chance to practice their routine for home games this season. That practice won't begin on Saturday, however, Quinn wants to give his team plenty of time to get acclimated to their new home.
The Falcons will have a walkthrough on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, giving them a test run before game day.
"We'll also go in Friday before the game and do a walkthrough there," Quinn said. "That will be the first time for, I'd say, 99 percent of the guys to be in the stadium – and all of us when it's fully done. We're really pumped to go check it out.
"I've been inside the stadium, recently. For us, I can't wait to see the guys. And see their locker room and on the field. And then, past that, the connection that the city has with the fans. We feel that. We want them to know how hard we want to play for them. In return, we also want them to know that the energy they provide for the team, they totally feel."
An open house event was held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday for Falcons and Atlanta United season ticket holders to allow them an opportunity to see it fully completed and ready for action. There was a tangible energy to the crowd inside of the stadium, and it's hard to imagine just how electric the atmosphere will be when the Falcons take the field.
Friday will offer more than an opportunity to get the layout of the stadium, however. There will be a few necessary things that Quinn will be looking for that will come into play during games.
"Where is the sun coming through at the time prior to kickoff, certainly for day games, because one (sideline) has it where it could come through," Quinn said. "For the quarterbacks, the shot clock, where's that at? Fortunately, it's at almost eye level across the field. You don't have to go and look real high for some of your down-and-distance stuff. For the returners, that's an important one. Seeing it up and seeing the ball go through the stadium and what possible spots could cause us trouble."
Matt Ryan is another member of the Falcons who has already been inside of the stadium. Upon his first walkthrough, the reigning NFL MVP described Mercedes-Benz Stadium as "unbelievable."
Now that he's had that initial experience, Ryan, like his head coach, will be looking for certain things that could come into play during games.
"I've been down there before, so I've kind of gotten a feel for some of the stuff," he said after Tuesday's practice. "To be down there with the guys, to get used to where you're set up in the lockers, know where all of your stuff is pregame, just to get into your routine and then to get out onto the field, get a feel for where the play clocks are. Just that kind of stuff. "I think we're all looking forward to it. Like everybody else, we're really excited to get in there."