1. RB Steven Jackson Returns to Practice:After suffering a hamstring injury in the first week of training camp, Steven Jackson returned to team practice Monday ready to go.
"I felt good out there today," Jackson said, "It's always exciting to be on the field with your teammates. It's quite different from being on the sideline, rehabbing by yourself. But to be in the mix with my teammates, it felt pretty good."
Although he returned to the practice field, there is no promise that he will be playing during the final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"There's a hand-full of guys that we know are not going to play in the game," head coach Mike Smith said. "We've got a lot of evaluating to do and it'll be a little bit different than what we've done in the past in terms of the amount of play time for the guys on our football team."
2. Southward, Asamoah Both Sidelined: Rookie safety Dezmen Southward was on the sidelines during practice after suffering an injury during the game against the Titans, but he wasn't alone. G Jon Asamoah was also held out of practice Monday for precautionary reasons but according to Smith, "We don't anticipate it will be any issue at all for him moving forward."
3. Jones Almost Back to the 'Old Julio': WR Julio Jones looked strong in his second preseason game, scoring a 52-yard touchdown against the Tennessee Titans, but that does not mean he is done improving. "I can get up to speed," Jones said, "I just can't hold it as much as I want to hold it over the course of a game." That will come with getting himself into game shape. He said he could play about 65 plays, which is about the number of offensive snaps in an average game, but he wants to be able to play them at a faster speed.
*4. Battle for Positions Continues to Heat Up: *Heading into the final preseason game, the position battles continue at backup quarterback, nickelback and right tackle. Many players are heading into the final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with everything to prove. "The battles will continue and they'll continue through these next two practices and they'll continue with the play there in Jacksonville," Smith said, "It'll be an important night for a lot of players and important night for our organization because we've got some tough decisions to make."
5. Hester Impressing Teammates:When asked about WR Devin Hester, Jones said, "pick your poison." Although initially bringing his spark to special teams, Hester has impressed in the preseason offensively thus far, scoring two touchdowns, including at 31-yard score off a pass from QB Matt Ryan.
"You've got a guy that is that dynamic," Smith said. "He can add to our weapons on the offensive side not just on special teams."
Hester is proving that he is valued in more than one phase of the game which has made him a standout in the preseason.