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Who stood out in Falcons preseason game vs. Lions

Parker Hesse, Marcus Mariota and Qadree Ollison among top performers against Detroit

DETROIT – Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said that his healthy players would play in the preseason, even those locked into the starting lineup.

He wasn't lying.


The Falcons names you know were all featured early in Friday night's 27-23 preseason victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, though most of them didn't stick around for long.

Desmond Ridder was around for a long, long time, and found a way to win it late, on fourth-down, with a scrambling touchdown strike to Jared Bernhardt.

He played most of the game, with the starters seeing relatively limited action as expected

The first-unit defense played one series. Top offensive players played the same amount, with Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts making cameos on the drive

The defenders got pushed around a bit on the game's opening drive, giving up 79 yards on a 10-play touchdown drive that featured just one third down.

The offense did the pushing on their series, rushing for 61 yards on a drive that went 82, capped by Marcus Mariota's 6-yard sprint to the pylon. It ate up most of the first quarter, with several moments encouraging to the visiting team.

That did it for the starting units, who technically played a first quarter that essentially included two drives.

Let's take a look at Falcons who stood out in the early going and as the game progressed:

TE Parker Hesse

The second-year pro was heavily involved in the first two Falcons touchdowns. He escorted Mariota into the end zone with a solid, sustained block that created a path to the end zone for his quarterback.

He registered a score of his own two series later, securing a 1-yard touchdown catch from Desmond Ridder that was executed flawlessly. He started the play as a blocked, then leaked out into the pattern and into open space. Ridder dropped a touch pass over his shoulder and Hesse caught it for six.

QB Marcus Mariota

Mariota had a solid opening drive, showing how much his mobility can impact an offense. He had three carries for 23 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run to the pylon. He also extended pass plays with his legs, going 2-for-2 for 36 yards through the air, most of which came on a pass to Drake London where he rolled out to his right and made a nice throw.

The threat of his speed also created other openings in the run game. Mariota was impressive in limited action, though he took more hits than I'm sure the Falcons would prefer during a preseason game.

CB Dee Alford

The former CFL standout made the Falcons' defensive play of the day near the end of the third quarter, with a highlight-reel interception of Lion quarterback Tim Boyle. He made a great read, jumped his man's route and made the pick with arms outstretched. He also made eight tackles in this one, meaning he was active in run defense.

Alford has flashed a few times in camp practices and could well make a push for a roster spot in the cornerback.

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions in the first preseason game of 2022.

QB Desmond Ridder

The rookie quarterback's preseason debut was a mixed bag, but with good moments and bad in equal measure. He showed solid scrambling ability, with enough speed to gain big yards in open space. Accuracy has been an issue in training camp and was again on Friday, but he made some smart reads and delivered some passes on time and in the right spot. That included his second pass attempt, which went 20 yards to Damiere Byrd.

His most impressive sequence came midway through the second quarter. He had an interception negated by a pass interference but didn't get down on himself. He took advantage of second life, driving the Falcons to a touchdown secured by Hesse but set up with a 20-yard strike to Geronimo Allison.

And, on brand with was Ridder did in college, the Cincinnati product closed out a victory. Timmy Horne recovered a botched snap in Lions territory and Ridder took advantage. He somehow found Jared Bernhardt on fourth down for the go-ahead touchdown.

WR Drake London

The No. 8 overall pick (technically) had his first catch as a Falcon during Friday night's game, though it would count in the staff. It was a nice route run coming across the field and a nice pass delivered in a spot where he could catch and run for 24 yards.

That good result led to a bad one. The USC product was examined in the Falcons medical tent and was later ruled out with a knee injury. That's a storyline worth monitoring as we progress.

ILB Rashaan Evans

There wasn't a ton to like about the opening defensive series, as the Lions marched downfield with ease. Evans, however, was everywhere making tackles. That's what the Falcons need from their inside linebacker, especially two tackles stopping runs at three yards or less.

RB Qadree Ollison

The Falcons were running strong on their initial drive, during which Ollison had plenty of room to work. He had 33 yards on five carries, including 18- and 12-yard runs on consecutive plays. He had wide open rushing lanes and took advantage of them while helping the Falcons move down the field. Ollison is a tough runner fighting for a roster spot at this stage, so he's got to make the most of opportunities given. He did that on Friday night.

Call for questions

Let's fill up the mailbag with your questions after what you saw from the Falcons on Friday in Detroit. Submit them right here for inclusion in the next Bair Mail.


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