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Falcons vs. Dolphins: Three things to watch in Atlanta's final preseason game

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons wrap up the preseason on Thursday night with their final exhibition game against the Miami Dolphins.

While the starters are unlikely to take any snaps, this game is still valuable in many ways, especially to the players who have yet to solidify their spot on the 53-man roster. It's one last chance for players to make a case for themselves as NFL rosters must be cut down to 53 plays by 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Here are three things to watch on Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

1. Bubble players make final case

Although there aren't many holes to fill on the Falcons' roster, there are still several positions the team has yet to solidify from a depth perspective. That's where this game is especially important because it gives coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff one last glimpse of each player before having to finalize the roster and practice squad. A few of the position groups with players to watch closely are the following:

Wide receiver -- Reggie Davis, Devin Gray and Dontez Byrd

Linebacker -- Jonathan Celestin and Richard Jarvis

Defensive line -- J.T. Jones, Justin Zimmer
Offensive line -- Matt Gono

Those four position groups have several players who could make a case for themselves with one final strong performance.

2. Who wins the fullback battle: Ricky Ortiz or Jalston Fowler?

A week ago, Quinn said Ricky Ortiz was in the lead to win the starting fullback job. And then Jalston Fowler was signed. Although the Falcons are still impressed with Ortiz's body of work this preseason, they've been impressed with Falston since he's arrived. A big deciding factor for this job will be special teams value. Quinn said the fullback will play between 20 to 25 percent of snaps on offense.

Here's what Quinn had to say about the competition at this position:

"Ricky Ortiz has done a nice job so far on teams and Fowler will certainly have his chance to get some of that this weekend as well," Quinn said. "Both of them can really get out of their stance and lead block so that's a good thing. So the second part of their evaluation is going to be on special teams. Fowler came in with the right mindset and attitude to say hey I've got something to offer here."

3. Kick and punt returner battle still on-going

Who will be the Falcons' starting kick and punt returner remains one of the final questions about Atlanta's starting lineup. Justin Hardy is as sure-handed as they come and then there's rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley who is a "natural" returner, says special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. Fellow rookies Ito Smith and Isaiah Oliver have also shared return duties, Smith as a kick returner and Oliver as the punt returner. Who will lock up those spots for the season?

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