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What to watch for during open practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

A general view of Mercedes Benz Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks on September 13, 2020. (Photo by AJ Reynolds/Atlanta Falcons)

The last open Atlanta Falcons AT&T Training Camp practice at the team's training facility in Flowery Branch has come and gone. There is, however, one more chance for fans to catch the Falcons before the preseason begins.

That will occur on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and there's plenty to keep an eye on at this final open session. Let's break down what you should keep an eye on Saturday at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

First off, the basics:

What: Falcons training camp practice

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

When: 2 p.m.

How much: $5, with all proceeds going to Emory Healthcare's research and discovery programs

Bonus incentive: The team is offering free Pfizer vaccines at the stadium from 1-3 p.m. on the 300 skybridge.

What to expect

It must be noted that this practice session will not be an NFL version spring football red-black game. The Falcons will work on specific game situations, and no one will go to the ground. It won't play out like a game as you know it, but there will be some scrimmage-type periods that will help the Falcons improve in certain areas.


It will also serve as a pre-preseason pseudo dress rehearsal for a new staff that has never worked in the Falcons venue.

"We're excited to go down to the stadium, and we'll have fans in there," head coach Arthur Smith said. "It'll be cool for a lot of us to go down there, and it'll be good for the staff, too. We haven't coached in that stadium yet, so we've got to work through [some things], and the preseason helps. We get two home preseason games. So, it's big for our staff, obviously the players.

"It'll be a practice, and I mean we're not going to tackle. … There will be a lot of team and situational stuff. Then we've got to assess where we're at, in terms of injury-wise, personnel, and how many reps. We'll have a good practice down there Saturday."

Five things to watch:

1. Kyle Pitts, obviously: The No. 4 overall NFL Draft pick has been a standout during camp. Not with every play, mind, you, but with enough to flash vast potential and excite Falcons fans over what he might become.

2. A.J. Terrell (well, duh): The second-year cornerback has taken a clear jump in play, with excellent work coming almost every day this summer. Keep an eye on him when he matches up with Pitts, Russell Gage and Calvin Ridley especially. Those matchups are always fun.

3. Dante Fowler, maybe: The Falcons need the veteran edge rusher back as soon as possible, without rushing it. That could come Saturday or farther down the line. He came off the COVID-19 list on Friday. He's the lynchpin to the entire pass rush.

4. Secondary standouts: We've heard a ton about young players standing out in the defensive backfield, and rightfully so. We've seen Chris Williamson and Darren Hall emerge, with Avery Williams and T.J. Green flashing at times. The first unit, however, has remained relatively static. Can Fabian Moreau hold up outside? Can Isaiah Oliver be a stout slot man? Or will younger players push them?

5. Red-zone activity: If it's possible to root for both units at once, this is where you'd want to do it. The offense simply must be efficient inside the 20 this season. The defense, too. Coordinator Dean Pees is known for running units that bend but rarely break. Getting in some good work near the end zone is always important has we head toward the games themselves.

The Atlanta Falcons defense showed off on Friday. Take a look at the best images from Day 8 of 2021 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.

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