Tonight marks the final dress rehearsal for the regular season, at least as far as the starters go. They will likely play the entire first half and a bit into the third quarter as well. Most of the guys you’ll see on the field during that time period are locks to make the roster. Next week, most of those same players will sit for the preseason finale. The third preseason game is often considered to be the most important because it more closely mirrors the intensity of the regular season. With that in mind, here are some Falcon players that you should be keeping your eyes on against the Miami Dolphins:
Michael Turner – Turner has rushed 8 times for a total of 14 yards this preseason, not a good look for him. He has been successful on two of those runs. He hasn’t had great blocking up front, but he needs to step it up against the Dolphins. Turner wants to silence the doubters and having a solid performance in his final preseason action will be a key aspect in doing so.
Sam Baker – Baker has been really spared this summer, with both Terrell Suggs and Carlos Dunlap, Baltimore and Cincinnati’s top pass rushers, respectively being out of the games. Baker has yet to really be tested. Well this week, he should get tested against Cameron Wake, and it should be a nice indicator whether the Falcons brass was right to have confidence in Baker in 2012.
Lamar Holmes – Holmes will make his preseason debut tonight and should get a ton of reps. He’ll be one to watch to indicate whether the Falcons have good depth at left tackle. Holmes is not in the mix to start given his lack of reps, but he can answer questions about whether the Falcons might need to look at other tackles come cutdown days if he doesn’t have a good performance tonight.
Kerry Meier – I’ll keep harping on Meier needing to emerge until he does. Meier needs to show that he is capable of stepping into the lineup in the event of an injury to Jones, White, or Douglas, and has yet to do so. It would be nice to see him go out in the first half or so against the Dolphins starters and make a play. He missed the Bengal game with a leg injury and needs to play and produce against the Dolphins.
Ray Edwards – Last time I mentioned that Edwards stock was down due to the fact that he was being pulled off the field in nickel situations. This week if that remains the case, then Edwards makes the most of his pass rushing situations against the Dolphins.
Akeem Dent – Dent is back after missing last week’s game with a concussion. He had his ups and downs against the Ravens, and needs to come back with a performance against the Dolphins that shows more ups than downs. In particular, he needs to improve in coverage to at least give the team faith that he won’t be totally lost if he has to pull extended reps there during the regular season.