Tackling must be sound
Atlanta's fourth preseason game will likely showcase the younger players on the roster more than any other game so far. With final cuts looming, head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff will get one last look at their talent before making decisions on the 53-man roster and the practice squad.
What is Quinn looking to see from his defensive players on Thursday night at the Georgia Dome? A consistent effort to tackle well, be fundamentally sound and play with a sense of urgency.
"Defensively in this game I want to make sure we're really emphasizing our tackling," Quinn said. "It's a fundamentals game, we're not doing so much from a scheme standpoint in this game, so I want to get a good evaluation on the players and say 'man, they've learned the system, they've applied it.' Now, here's a little extended playing time for the young guys and have they got the techniques and fundamentals that we're looking for."
Field position is everything
The easiest way for a young player who is vying for a spot on the Falcons' roster to make the team is to show value on special teams. Quinn wants players who show versatility all over the field, starting with the coverage units.
"Where does our field position start? Usually, when they have to go a long way on some of the drives, we are going to play better," Quinn said. "Our kickoff team, our punt teams -- our gunners specifically-- there's real competition at that spot. We're looking at Robenson Therezie, Sharrod Neasman, C.J. Goodwin. We're trying to see what of this roster spot can you make and have a bigger contribution on special teams than maybe even on offense and defense."
It's QB Matt Simms' time to shine
Matt Ryan will play very little against the Jaguars, and according to Coach Quinn, it will be Simms' night to shine. The University of Tennessee product beat out Sean Renfree for Atlanta's No. 3 quarterback spot.
Simms will be expected to take command of the offense and the operation is expected to run smoothly.
"This is a great time to get a really big evaluation on Matt Simms," Quinn said. "I want to see him function and run the whole thing and see the command of the offense."