As I’ve consistently done every summer, I went position-by-position to make note of every single Atlanta Falcons player that saw the field in their preseason loss to the New York Jets.
If you’re curious about my thoughts on last week’s preseason win over the Tennessee Titans, you can click here to read those.
As a random note that doesn’t really belong in a specific place in this positional breakdown, I thought it was interesting to see the Falcons utilize the “pistol” formation on a couple of plays. Their very first play from scrimmage was in that set. The Redskins utilized a lot of pistol with Robert Griffin III back in 2012 when Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator there. It’s nice to see the Falcons bring it to Atlanta. Obviously, it’s a formation that works best with a quarterback that is also a threat to run, but it can still be effective with quarterbacks as “athletically-challenged” as the Falcons’ group.
What I Saw: Matt Ryan obviously looked solid in his two series of action. He really didn’t have to do much, as much of the dirty work of moving down the field was taken care of with two big plays, so that the Falcons were practically in the red zone before he really was tested. So most of his throws were simple reads and routine throws. The backup quarterback competition was where the brunt of the action took place.
Sean Renfree and T.J. Yates alternated series, which likely contributed to both players’ inability to develop any rhythm or momentum. Yates got to work the starting offensive line for three series (Joe Hawley was his center all three drives), while Renfree got two series with the starting line in the first half (Mike Person was his center both times). Neither quarterback really did much with their time.
Renfree had the better game, but it wasn’t by much. He was the cleaner of the two, with few mental mistakes and only a couple of throws left on the field. His most glaring mistake was the near pick-six he threw on the final drive. On that play, he was late on a quick out to Nick Williams, but because he short-armed the throw (thanks to pressure in his face from Deion Barnes bull-rushing Pierce Burton), Jets cornerback Marcus Williams wasn’t able to pick it off and take it to the house.
Renfree looked more comfortable and continued to outpace Yates in terms of accuracy and timing. But the aforementioned throw highlights what potentially may be Renfree’s biggest weakness: arm strength. I wouldn’t go as far to say Renfree can’t make every throw because he probably can, but I’m not sure he can make every throw well, particularly beyond the intermediate level.
As for Yates, there were too many plays where he was forced to go to a second read and tended to panic a bit in the pocket. He was unable to pull the trigger a couple of times and also had a few too many bad throws. He was more accurate this week than he was against the Titans, but he still was off too many times. His interception was just a bad throw, where he threw to a receiver that wasn’t open and then underthrew Tony Moeaki to allow for an easy interception by Jamari Lattimore.
Yates’ best series was probably the first one he had in the third quarter where he looked sharper, but his receivers didn’t really help him out enough.
Conclusion: Overall, I would say the Falcons inability to get first downs throughout the last three quarters of the game were mostly due to poor play along the offensive line moreso than bad quarterback play. But neither Renfree nor Yates did a lot to inspire confidence that they are capable of handling the first-team reps should Ryan miss time this season for whatever reason. There’s no doubt Renfree has been the better between the two and looks more comfortable in the offense. But the fear with him is how limited the offense might be if he’s forced to start, as I question whether or not he’ll be able to reliably make the intermediate and deep throws that need to be made.
What I Saw: Once again, another lackluster performance from the backs. Terron Ward really didn’t do anything to justify why the Falcons coaching staff seem to really like him. Since the injuries to Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, Ward has predominantly taken all the team’s first-team reps. As a runner, he hasn’t gotten a lot of room to do much, but at the same time he hasn’t really done much with what little he’s been given.
Jerome Smith had a couple of nice runs, as did Michael Ford. Ford has superior speed, burst and acceleration when getting out to the edge, but when Smith was able to get some space he did a nice job running behind his pads to break a tackle here and there. The one major knock on Smith was he blew one of his pass-protecting assignments, giving up a pressure on a play because he tried to cut Lorenzo Mauldin and whiffed.
Evan Royster did little with his limited opportunities. Hopefully he’ll get another opportunity either next week against the Miami Dolphins or versus Baltimore in Week Four to take his shot.
Conclusion: Smith and Ford have done enough to get a shot as the fourth tailback, but it’s very clear that the coaching staff likes Ward a lot more. So more than likely, Smith and Ford are competing for a shot to land on the practice squad over the next two weeks. Royster isn’t practice-squad eligible, so he really needs to have a big game soon to really get into the mix. If Freeman and Coleman are coming back next week, that probably means he’ll have to hope he can survive the first cut and make it to the last preseason game against the Ravens. And even then, his primary hope is that one of the team’s other backs get hurt to compel the team to keep five runners instead of four.
What I Saw: Collin Mooney got the start and obviously had the big 60-yard play that helped set up the score on the Falcons’ opening drive. But that play was more the result of Ryan making a good throw and Quinton Coples begin out of position than because Mooney is awesome. But Mooney did well as a lead blocker on Ward’s touchdown run, nudging Coples out of the hole to seal the alley for Ward.
But where Mooney stood out was on special teams, doing a good job on the team’s first two kickoffs. On the first one, he busted up the wedge to allow Allen Bradford to make the stop. On the second one, he himself made the stop.
Patrick DiMarco was fine working with the backups, making a couple of nice blocks and a couple of others that could have been better. He probably should’ve had a touchdown reception, but Javier Arenas made an excellent tackle at the goal line. But Arenas got some help by a poor throw on Yates’ part. Yates threw too far inside, forcing DiMarco to have to adjust to the throw behind him and preventing him from turning upfield with the sort of momentum he needed to score. If Yates leads DiMarco, then he should have easily been able to extend ball across the plane for a touchdown.
Conclusion: Mooney had the stronger performance, but this is a battle that is likely going to be played out over the next two weeks. Based off what I’ve seen of both this summer and in past ones, DiMarco is probably the more powerful of the two in terms of lead blocking but the difference between the two isn’t significant. It might really just come down to special teams since I believe from a blocking standpoint, neither player has or will create the necessary separation. DiMarco is a lot more proven having worked quite a bit on special teams the past two years in Atlanta, but Mooney made some plays against the Jets that likely gives him a slight edge this summer.
What I Saw: The starters didn’t really have to do much. Julio Jones only saw the one target and drew a flag from Darrelle Revis. Leonard Hankerson had a nice touchdown catch, but that play was really mostly about the pick by Devin Hester. Hester was the first receiver off the bench over Hardy, as he and Hank worked well into the second quarter. Had he turned and located the ball he could have potentially had a touchdown when he was wide open down the seam in the middle of the second quarter. Had Hester made that play, that definitely would have been a feather in the hat of Renfree. But obviously, he more than carried his weight with his play on special teams.
Justin Hardy also got reps, working as the backup flanker behind Hankerson with Roddy White out with injury. He had another drop this week, but was a bit more consistent catching the ball. He had a couple of nice grabs, the best being the deep cross he had at the end of the third quarter that went for 31 yards. It’s interesting how relatively little work he’s gotten so far in the slot this summer.
Nick Williams, Eric Weems and Carlton Mitchell were the next men up. The best of Williams was probably featured on special teams, but he did make an excellent grab in traffic on fourth down from Yates near the goal line.
Weems’ standout moment was the near catch he had along the sideline on a stop-and-go route. Another instance where Yates didn’t make a great throw. If he leads him down the field instead of lobbing it up for him, that’s potentially a touchdown.
Mitchell had a nice couple of catches, but nothing that really isn’t going to distinguish him from the rest of the group.
Marquez Clark got very little action until the tail end of the game. Bernard Reedy nearly had a touchdown on a go route, showing good speed but Renfree overthrew him. This is the problem with being 5-7 (his being listed at 5-9 is being generous) in that the windows are smaller to throw into.
Conclusion: Not a whole lot to glean from this game except that Mitchell, Clark and Reedy are probably on the outside looking in. Weems is a known commodity and proven contributor, but he could be looking over his shoulder at Williams. Basically, they are two players that potentially fill the same niche as special teams cover guys, potential slot options on offense, and probably a good candidate to fill in at returner in case Hester is injured. Williams is definitely the faster of the two thanks to his youth. Positive is that Williams is still practice-squad eligible, so it’s possible the Falcons could keep both.
What I Saw: Jacob Tamme was relatively quiet, but looked good on both of the team’s scoring plays. He had a nice block on Marcus Gilchrist on Ward’s touchdown run. He also was potentially open on Hankerson’s touchdown catch, slipping behind a Jets defender. Had Ryan been so inclined, he could have lobbed it up for him for what could have been a touchdown, but instead made an easier throw and read to Hankerson.
Tamme’s only negative was the safety on Yates. It was clearly a miscommunication between him and James Stone on who was supposed to pick up Leonard Williams. Tamme was lined up behind Stone at H-back, and I’m of the opinion that Tamme should’ve at least tried to chip Williams, since Stone’s actions on that play indicated he did not believe Williams was his assignment. Tamme instead was focused on the linebacker in the A gap. Ultimately, I would have attributed sack responsibility to Stone, but I’d bet that Tamme got an earful on the sideline as well.
Tony Moeaki continues to work with the backups over Levine Toilolo, most likely because of his superior blocking. Moeaki hasn’t done much as a receiver, basically being an outlet option for the various backup quarterbacks in the sense that he can run a quick out or flat pattern capably, but hasn’t shown much ability to work the seams or middle of a defense effectively. Toilolo had a nice catch on the two-point conversion, but that was a throw where Yates probably should’ve put more air under it given the size advantage.
D.J. Tialavea will be considered the “goat” for his fumble at the end of the game. He had a nice block at the start of the fourth quarter on a 13-yard run by Ford. Mickey Shuler was decent, but he missed a block on that same drive. Neither player really brings anything to the table that makes you feel like they’re deserving a roster spot.
Conclusion: The Falcons seem pretty settled in at this position, as injury seems to be the only thing that will prevent them from rolling into the season with Tamme, Moeaki and Toilolo as their main three.
What I Saw: Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson proved a handful to the Falcons’ guards, particularly Jon Asamoah. Richardson didn’t start the game and his quickness and power overwhelmed several of the Falcons’ blockers, including James Stone and Joe Hawley.
Asamoah looked a little sluggish and could be sporting an undisclosed injury as Hawley seemed to be moving a bit better than him despite the fact that Hawley’s knee is supposedly not 100 percent. It could be due to the ankle injury that Asamoah was sporting earlier this offseason, but for whatever reason his footwork and movement aren’t quite up to par with guys like Stone and Chris Chester.
Where Asamoah is better than those latter two guys is with his hands, but at least against the Jets, the gap between them wasn’t significant. While neither Stone nor Chester had great games, neither was so bad that I think the Falcons are going to make changes to their starting lineup this week.
Stone gave up pressure twice, and didn’t create enough leverage as a run blocker on a play here and there, but for the most part did fine. As mentioned previously, the sack he “allowed” probably had more to do with a miscommunication about his blocking assignment than anything. That’s not a big deal, since that can be easily corrected. And one can argue that since the quarterback (Yates) and center (Hawley) are responsible for the protections, they are just as much at fault as Stone is.
What is less correctable is physical deficiencies, and other than a poor punch on a pressure he gave up to Leger Douzable at the end of the first quarter, the physical aspect wasn’t too deficient. He also deserves credit for an excellent second-level block on Ward’s touchdown run. That ability to locate defenders on the second level is something that Stone seemingly has improved upon this summer over last year where he was often hit and miss.
Jake Matthews had a pretty clean game. Ryan Schraeder was fine, but had a little bit of trouble versus Lorenzo Mauldin’s power in the second quarter.
It still remains unanswered if the reason that Hawley and Mike Person are alternating possessions at center is because Hawley is fighting for his job or because the Falcons want to see if Person is capable of filling in should Hawley’s knee limit him. But through the second week, it appears that Hawley is creating separation between them without really having to do much. Person was more effective when he played left guard, and had another bad snap this week.
Adam Replogle got third-team reps at center with Peter Konz injured and also had a low shotgun snap of his own. Replogle really struggled when trying to block Jets backup nose tackles T.J. Barnes and Deon Simon on islands. Barnes really gave him fits in the third quarter. Valerian Ume-Ezeoke got in on the final two series, but did little to stand out. The same could be said of Jared Smith and Pierce Burton.
Eric Lefeld and Matt Huffer struggled in their two series of work. Huffer’s limitation mostly centers on his lack of pop off the snap. Tyler Polumbus didn’t struggle as much as he did a week ago, as this week against the Jets he at least had a couple of positive plays and blocks. But he continues to struggle in pass protection, giving up a sack and a pressure. Jake Rodgers didn’t follow up with a great performance but he’s slightly more trustworthy than Polumbus, particularly in pass protection.
Conclusion: Chester was quickly pulled at the end of the first quarter, suggesting that he’s got the right guard sewn up. The comments of head coach Dan Quinn on Sunday seemed to confirm this. The Falcons appear a lot more confident in the abilities of Stone and Person that probably most of the fan base. At least with Stone, that confidence is semi-understandable since he’s basically a younger version of Chester, who is a player that Shanahan was confident in during their shared days in Washington. The chief concern here is whether or not Person is ready to be the team’s swing guard/center on gamedays. That appears to be the plan given his extensive work at both guard and center this summer. But his inability to reliably snap the ball, struggles to make second-level blocks from the center position suggest that the Falcons might be smarter to look in another direction as their insurance policy behind Hawley. None of the other backup centers have done enough to think they’re in the mix.
The rest of the depth is iffy at best. Rodgers has outplayed Polumbus so far this offseason, but would probably get eaten alive if he was to start a game so that probably means that the Falcons might also need to address their tackle depth.
Burton and Smith are probably the backups with the best shot at landing a spot on the practice squad since they appeared to do the best job keeping their heads above water.
What I Saw: The pass rush looked good, particularly the nickel sub-package as all four players popped from time to time. Vic Beasleyhad a pressure and hit, showcasing a bit more power than he usually did at Clemson. Adrian Clayborn’s first step was too much for James Carpenter. His sack came when Carpenter overset due to fear of Clayborn’s speed, then got overextended and lost his balance to give Clayborn a clear path to the quarterback. The only real knock on Clayborn is that his hand usage and technique isn’t particularly polished. But if he’s just going to be asked to use his speed as an interior rusher as it seems to be the case, then he might be able to get away with that if/when he faces slow-footed guards like Carpenter this year. Clayborn finished with a sack, pressure and had two hurries (one was wiped out by a penalty).
Jonathan Babineaux had a good game with a pair of hurries. He was mixed into the lineup on the team’s base packages with Ra’Shede Hageman nursing a concussion. O’Brien Schofield had a pressure, hit and hurry, showing much better get-off than he did a week ago. He also played one snap at strong-side linebacker as well, unlike last week.
The base group did fine, with Paul Soliai giving Nick Mangold fits in the first quarter. Mangold seemed to struggle against the Falcons starters, with both Soliai and Tyson Jackson getting the better of him on the opening drives. But once Joey Mbu got into the game, Mangold started to look like his old self and was easily able to move the Falcons’ rookie nose tackle. For the most part, Mbu struggled when he needed to maintain two gaps.
Kroy Biermann was fine, getting a couple of hurries but also not doing a great job maintaining outside leverage on a play when working at LEO. Grady Jarrett saw all of his reps in the base defense, playing both defensive end and defensive tackle. Among the backups in the base, he looked the best. He didn’t make some plays, but he was almost in position to do so a couple of times unlike the others. Neither Malliciah Goodman (one hurry) nor Cliff Matthews (one hit) created much pressure when they were lined up at end, but did a bit better inside where their quickness is more of an asset against slower guards. The Falcons utilized a ton of their nickel sub-package in the second and third quarters, and thus both Goodman and Matthews were often asked to hold up against the run inside, which they didn’t do particularly well.
Because of that overuse of the nickel, Stansly Maponga and Tyler Starr got a ton of opportunities. Maponga had a couple of nice pass rushes showcasing his good first step. He needs to play a bit more under control and do a better job versus the run, but there’s no doubt that he has upside as a pass-rusher. Starr did little as a pass-rusher and wasn’t quite as good at linebacker this week as he was a week ago. It was clear that he was a bit hesitant reacting to plays in front of him when he had to drop into space.
For a player that lived by his upfield burst at Virginia Tech, Derrick Hopkins looked very slow coming off the ball in his limited action. Sam Meredith was okay this week, showcasing again a decent combo of strength and quickness. But he doesn’t possess enough of each to make a ton of plays on his own.
Warren Herring was the star of the third unit, making a couple of tackles for loss and stops. He did a much better job getting leverage, stacking and shedding blockers and looked more rangy and natural in space than he did last week.
Conclusion: Maponga has shown enough that he deserves a chance to make the roster, but if the team is intent on keeping Biermann, it might be tough sledding. Matthews was probably slightly better than Goodman and I’m not quite sure if they are competing for one roster spot or two. Goodman was working as a LEO rather than strong-side end this week, but was miscast in the former role. I doubt all four guys (Maponga, Biermann, Matthews, Goodman) will make it, yet I’m not sure if it will only be two or three that stick. This is a battle that will probably go down to the wire. It’s too early to call but you can bet that whoever gets cut will get opportunities with another team since I doubt any clear waivers (technically Biermann is not subject to waivers).
Herring made a name for himself and if this play continues, it could ultimately cost either Goodman or Matthews a spot since he could potentially be a good developmental replacement for one of them down the road if he lands on the practice squad. The backup nose tackle position is problematic. Mbu might be worthy of a practice-squad spot, but he’s not NFL ready yet. Right now if Soliai was to go down, Jackson would be their best and only candidate to fill in for him.
What I Saw: Brooks Reed looked solid in his first game action. He looked a lot more comfortable playing in space and dropping into coverage than any of the other options the Falcons have at strong-side linebacker. As a run-defender, he didn’t particularly stand out but also did not play poorly.
Paul Worrilow looked the best he’s ever been in coverage so far in his career, breaking up a couple of throws. He played with great activity. Justin Durant did some nice things in three series of work, but didn’t truly stand out.
Joplo Bartu is definitely playing faster and with a bit more of an edge than he did last year, which is a good sign. Reading and recognition were never his strong suits, but he’s doing a better job locating the ball and running to it.
The same can’t quite be said of Nate Stupar, who fell behind Allen Bradford this week at middle linebacker. Stupar seemed to consistently be playing on his heels, slow to react and chase and then overrunning some plays when he did. Stupar’s struggles makes me think that Derek Akunne is starting to close the gap as the potential sixth linebacker. Akunne got work with the “starters” on special teams. While there were plays that Akunne didn’t make because he’s not reacting quick enough or attacking blockers and/or the ball in the hole, he did a much better job at that than Stupar did against the Jets. Considering his youth, some hesitancy is to be expected. Stupar has been around the block and thus should be playing faster than he did on Friday.
Bradford struggles to beat blockers on the second level and thus the inability to Mbu to occupy blockers hurt him on a couple of runs. He was key-blocked on Chris Ivory’s 33-yard touchdown, along with Bartu and Mbu. But I do think if Bradford had the opportunity to play behind Soliai and Jackson, he’d be fine as a fill-in starter at middle linebacker. He can be slow to react to some plays, but when he is able to locate the ball, he can get to it in a hurry.
Boris Anyama did little this week to distinguish himself. Terrell Manning got some late work on the weak side with Marquis Spruill playing the strong side. Unless Manning gets more reps next week and takes advantage, he may not make it past the first round of cuts. He didn’t do anything poorly in this game, but he’s just so far behind the eight ball considering how recently he signed.
Conclusion: It would seem that Bradford and Bartu have started to create some separation as the team’s top two backups. Akunne has certainly put together a strong enough body of work to land on the practice squad, but might be able to steal a roster spot from Stupar if the veteran isn’t careful. Unlike last week, Biermann didn’t play any linebacker and that’s probably a good thing. Starr did, but as mentioned before seemed uncomfortable when playing in space and dropping into zone.
The fact that Spruill has yet to see the field until the last drive or two of both preseason games suggests that he’s a roster longshot. He just really hasn’t had any opportunities to really distinguish himself. Between him, Anyama and Manning, they are probably all hoping to make it through the first round of cuts to make their case in the preseason finale against the Ravens.
What I Saw: The Jets were able to test the Falcons corners a lot more than the Titans. Brandon Marshall got the better of both rookies Jalen Collins and Kevin White. Marshall also beat Robert Alford and Phillip Adams on a couple of plays as well and throughout the game was able to showcase his ability to find soft spots in the zone and use his body to box out corners. Alford played in the slot and looked fine there, but he’ll likely have a bigger test against the Dolphins if he remains there.
Collins’ coverage was less problematic against the Jets than his run support. Too many times he was too easily blocked downfield or made minimal effort to contribute as a tackler. That’s something that is not going to fare well with Quinn.
Dezmen Southward had a rough outing, giving up a touchdown and a few receptions. He dropped what should have been an easy interception that could have really helped his standing in making the roster. It’s unfortunate because Southward was really put in a position he couldn’t really win this offseason. Not a natural fit at either safety spot in Quinn’s scheme, he’s practically brand new to the cornerback position. And with more polished (and/or talented) options like Collins, White and Adams to back up Alford and Desmond Trufant, Southward really had to show that he was a prodigy at his new position to make the team.
The positive for Southward is that he still has an outside shot since Collins and White have had a few too many lapses and none of the other corners behind him have really stood out. Akeem King got beat on a couple of deep balls and is in a similar boat as Southward. Jonathon Mincy got most of his reps at safety, but did get a couple of reps playing slot corner. Michael Lee and Travis Howard got work late and did little.
Conclusion: Southward still has a shot to turn things around, but he’ll need to make significant leaps forward in terms of his technique because he doesn’t look comfortable. It’ll help if he can break up or intercept a pass or two in the next games to help his stock. Alford’s time in the slot suggests that he’ll play there when the team goes to nickel in the regular season. White is the team’s next best alternative and he looked better inside than he did outside against Marshall’s superior size. But it seems right now that the Falcons have their top five corners and are just hoping someone else steps up to give them a practice squad option. Right now, Mincy seems to be the best candidate.
What I Saw: Ricardo Allen continues to look comfortable when working in zone and has yet to really look out of position. Kemal Ishmael was solid filling in for William Moore at strong safety and this new scheme should definitely help mold him into the best version of himself since he can spend the bulk of his time playing in the box. Charles Godfrey was a little better this week, although he took a bad angle on the 58-yard run by Bilal Powell that was nullified by penalty. But that was really just a well-executed play by the Jets despite Eric Decker being called for the holding against Robenson Therezie, who also looked better this week. Therezie also missed a tackle on Ivory’s 33-yard touchdown run, but seemed to play faster and smarter this week. But I also think Therezie is being miscast as a free safety in the scheme. He probably would be better suited to playing strong safety where he looks a little more effective the closer he plays to the line of scrimmage.
Sean Baker played strong safety in the second half and had several nice plays in run support when he was playing near the line of scrimmage. He did a nice job attacking the edges and turning runners back inside towards the pursuit several times. Jonathon Mincy didn’t really stand out during his time at free safety, but flashes good awareness when playing in zone at cornerback to suggest that he’s not a bad option there.
Conclusion: Right now, the depth behind Allen is still a concern but at least the backups played much better this week. Whether any of them are the sort of rangy, center fielder that the team needs behind Allen at free safety remains to be seen, but it’s not as dire as it appeared a week ago. Hopefully they’ll continue to show progress over the next two games. Godfrey’s experience probably gives him a slight leg up over the others for the fourth safety spot, but Therezie is breathing down his neck.
What I Saw: Matt Bosher was crushing the ball and really helped the team flip field position on a couple of punts. Matt Bryant really had to take it easy for most of the night outside a pair of extra points. Josh Harris was his usual, competent self at long snapper.
The “starting” kickoff coverage unit featured Collins, Hankerson, Moeaki, Weems, Ishmael, DiMarco, Collin Mooney, Allen Bradford, Therezie and Alford. As mentioned earlier, both Mooney and Bradford did a good job on the first three kickoffs in which they were featured.
Jalen Collins and Phillip Adams got the “starts” as the team’s gunner on punt coverage. Eric Weems was the up-back, with Ishmael, Akunne, Toilolo, Biermann, Bradford and DiMarco also working that “starting” unit. That unit got work on the Falcons’ first two punts with Akunne, Weems and Collins probably being the most consistent to get downfield quickly.
Hardy, Robenson Therezie, Mitchell and Jonathon Mincy were the gunners the rest of the game. None were particularly great in that role, but Therezie and Mincy looked competent at times. Justin Hardy got flagged for a holding call, although it was an instance where a Jets player pushed him down and on his way to the ground he reached out and grabbed another Jets player to brace his fall, pulling him to the ground and drawing the flag.
As for the rest of the punt coverage units, I’d probably say Allen, Godfrey, Bartu and Anyama probably got “checks” for some positive coverage.
Weems nearly blocked the Jets’ second punt. Devin Hester had the big return thanks to shedding Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum and reversing field. Adams gave him a nice downfield block that nearly allowed him to score.
Nick Williams did a good job as a return man, but fared better on kick returns than punts. Bernard Reedy did a good job on his lone kickoff return at the end of the first half, and I’m not sure why he is only getting limited work there. He’s a far more effective return man than Ward. Ward barely returned kicks in college, while Reedy was one of the nation’s best during his junior season.