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Here are some position groups Dan Quinn will be watching closely in the Falcons' preseason finale

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- As Atlanta prepares for its fourth and final preseason game, a number of players will be showcasing their talents before head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff make their final roster decisions.

Players will be fighting for not just a spot on the active roster, but the practice squad as well. The Falcons have until 4 p.m.ET on Saturday to finalize their 53-man roster.

"There's still a number of spots in contention with both the roster and the practice squad," Quinn said of the final evaluation period. "If you look at the bigger picture of [seeing] the roster as a 63 that opens up your eyes to more development. "

So after three exhibition games, what position groups will Quinn be specifically looking at come Thursday night?


Secondary: The Falcons return all of their starters, but finding quality depth here will be key. The battle for the No. 4 and 5 cornerback spots between C.J. Goodwin, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Akeem King , Deji Olatoye, Jalen Collins and Jarnor Jones has been intense throughout training camp and the preseason.

At safety, several players put together impressive training camps. Sharrod Neasman saw a lot of snaps, as did rookie Damontae Kazee. Quincy Mauger also showed flashes of promise in several practices.

Linebacker: The Falcons got deeper at linebacker this offseason. In addition to Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell, the team re-signed Kemal Ishmael and moved him from safety to linebacker and also re-signed LaRoy Reynolds.

Rookie Duke Riley has impressed since his arrival. Jermaine Grace, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Miami, had a promising training camp before getting injured and missing the Falcons' second preseason contest against the Steelers. In his return to action, Grace tallied five tackles against the Cardinals. Josh Keyes, another undrafted free agent out of Boston College, is another player competing for a spot in the linebacker room. Keyes recorded three tackles in the Falcons' most recent preseason game.

Defensive end: The Falcons bolstered their defensive line with the additions of Dontari Poe and Jack Crawford. They also return a healthy Adrian Clayborn and Derrick Shelby and return the NFL's reigning sack leader, Vic Beasley.

But as Quinn has often stated, the play in the trenches is always at the forefront of his mind.

Joe Vellano, a veteran defensive tackle was a player that caught Quinn's attention following the first preseason game. Chris Odom, a college free agent out Arkansas State, recorded Atlanta's first sack of the preseason against the Steelers. J'Terius Jones has been another player whose impressed at defensive end. Jones signed as a college free agent after playing collegiate ball at Miami University (Ohio).


Guard: The most anticipated position battle of training camp has been at right guard between Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer. Quinn has said that they will use all four preseason games for evaluation before naming the starter.

Rookie Sean Harlow, Atlanta's fourth-round draft pick, has continued to improve throughout the preseason, with Quinn saying he made a big jump in between the first and second preseason games.

Receiver: This is one of the Falcons' deepest positions. Outside of Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Justin Hardy and Taylor Gabriel and Andre Roberts, the team's No. 1-5 options, there's a battle for the spots to follow between Nick Williams, Reggie Davis, Marvin Hall, Deante Burton and Anthony Dable.

Quinn has said at this position and in the secondary, special teams impact will be a determining factor in who makes the final 53-man roster.

The Falcons take on the Jacksonville Jaguars to close out the preseason at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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