Preseason Week 3 Stock Exchange
The Falcons first units got an extensive workout for the third preseason game against the Dolphins. And while the offense didn’t quite look like it was in midseason form, there were some good individual performances from a few players. The defense looked a little sharper, but there are still some questions going into the final exhibition contest. The team will make their first roster cut down by Tuesday in which they will have to release at least four players to get down to the limit of 75.
WR Harry Douglas – Douglas appears to be progressing nicely on his recovery from a season-ending knee injury last year. In the Dolphins game he flashed some of his trademark quickness and burst on his way to a 4-catch, 41-yard effort. He made a key grab to convert a 3rd & 11 on the Falcons initial scoring drive, which set up the touchdown pass to Roddy White on the very next play. And he had a nice 26-yard catch and run on the team’s scoring drive in the third quarter that put the team in the redzone, leading to a touchdown pass to Brian Finneran three plays later. If Michael Jenkins has an extended absence, Douglas is doing a nice job instilling some confidence that at least one of the team’s reserve receivers appears poised to step up and help.
TE Michael Palmer – Palmer has had a nice summer, showing good hands as he paves his way for a possible third tight end position. The incumbent is Keith Zinger, who was used almost exclusively as a blocker last year in goalline and short-yardage situations. It remains to be seen how impressed the team has been with Palmer’s run blocking, but he at least clearly is an upgrade as far as the passing game goes. He probably has shown enough that he merits a practice squad role at the least, but has a good shot at landing a spot on the 53-man roster.
LB Sean Weatherspoon – Weatherspoon made his second start on the strongside vs. the Dolphins, and from all indications appears that he will open up the season in that same position. Along with the team’s other linebackers, he certainly did his part to limit the Dolphins running attack to 46 total yards on 18 carries (2.6 avg) with a 4-tackle effort. Through three games and three starts, Weatherspoon has tallied 11 tackles, showing some of his trademark speed and range in run support.
K Matt Bryant – While a missed extra point in the Dolphins game may have had more to do with the dirt-laden field conditions of Land Shark Stadium, it still just underscores the fact that Bryant hasn’t instilled a ton of confidence with his kicking so far this summer. Given the inconsistency that the Falcons had last season in the kicking game with Jason Elam, Bryant may be facing a bit more pressure and extra scrutiny. The Falcons aren’t likely to make a change at this point in the summer, but the leash will be fairly tight and short once the regular season begins.
WR Brian Finneran – Although he made a nice grab on a scoring strike from Chris Redman vs. the Dolphins, he hasn’t really shown he’s in sync with starter Matt Ryan. Ryan showed an overwhelming tendency to target Roddy White in the Dolphin game, with 12 of his 26 passes going to No. 84. Finneran on the other hand only had one pass go his way from Ryan. As the Falcons look for a viable stopgap option in the absence of Michael Jenkins on the outside, Finneran hasn’t inspired a ton of confidence with his preseason performances.
CB Dunta Robinson – While it’s hard to blame the Falcons for playing it safe and keeping Robinson sidelined for fear of him aggravating a hamstring injury, it certainly hasn’t eased any doubts over whether the Falcons made the smart decision to sign Robinson to a big money contract this past spring. Hamstrings are notorious for taking some time to heal, and the Falcons maybe being extra cautious given the issues safety William Moore had a year ago. The Falcons can’t really afford to have Robinson get off to a slow start in the regular season, as the secondary will draw tough assignments against explosive receivers like Mike Wallace, Larry Fitzgerald, and Robert Meachem and physical ones like Hines Ward and Marques Colston early in the season. Last summer, Robinson missed the entire training camp due to a contract holdout, and it was proabbly no coincidence that the Texans secondary gave up 272 passing yards to a mediocre Jets passing attack in Week 1. The Falcons cannot afford a repeat of that this year.