Falcons Offensive Line vs. Bengals Defensive Line
Led by one of the premier defensive players in the NFL, Geno Atkins, the Bengals bring an imposing front that the Falcons offensive line will have to contend with if they want to keep Matt Ryan clean. Atkins, a two-time All-Pro, had 12.5 sacks last season and with Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and rookie Margus Hunt also rushing the quarterback, the Bengals are loaded with talent to get to the QB. Hunt should get reps as the game progresses and his athleticism poses a big challenge for the Falcons. The Falcons offense is only as good as Ryan's protection, so that protection is a priority.
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The Falcons experienced some struggles last season against tight ends and the Bengals feature a good one in rookie Tyler Eifert. The Notre Dame product has the size and speed to line up all over Cincinnati's offense and create matchup problems for the Falcons and their linebackers out in coverage. Akeem Dent and Stephen Nicholas will draw the early assignment, but young players like Pat Schiller and Joplo Bartu will have to help and Eifert represents a good test to begin the preseason.
Falcons Running Game vs. Bengals Linebackers
**While the Bengals bring intense pressure to the quarterback, their run defense can be susceptible to large gains. Last season, they allowed 107 yards per game on the ground and the Falcons would like to see their running game gain yardage like that. Newcomer Steven Jackson and the rest of the backﬁeld want to get the preseason off to a good start with a big day.
Falcons Corners vs. Bengals QB Andy Dalton
The Bengals third-year signal-caller will want to work on his timing with other receivers with A.J. Green being out. WR Andrew Hawkins and TE Jermaine Gresham combined for over 100 catches last year and will be a challenge for veteran Asante Samuel and rookie Desmond Trufant. We will see how practicing against teammates Julio Jones and Roddy White has helped prepare the rookie corner for big-time matchups.