It’s time to look at a handful of players whose stock is up or down based on their performances through the first game of the preseason.
Kroy Biermann, DE - Expectations that Biermann would be able to step up his game were not let down with a good preseason opener. Two tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble indicate that Biermann seems poised to build off a breakout year as a pass rusher.
Dominique Franks, CB – He is not in the mix to be a starter this year, and probably doesn’t have a realistic shot of winning the nickel role, but Franks has reportedly had a strong camp so far, and continue to flash his ability in the game against the Chiefs. He showed his tackling ability with two good sticks on Chiefs receivers. He missed another tackle by taking a bad angle and gave up another long play in coverage, indicating that he still has a ways to go before he can be a reliable contributor on defense. But if his tackling ability is any indicator, Franks should be a valuable contributor early on special teams. Chris Owens had a similar path a year ago, going from special teams maven into regular contributor on defense by year’s end.
Kerry Meier, WR – We continue to hear nice things about the fifth round pick who has snagged everything so far at camp. Meier finished the preseason opener with two catches for 27 yards. He isn’t likely a serious option to fill in time for the vacant Michael Jenkins, but if Meier continues to play at a high level, he may get opportunities on offense rather than being relegated to special teams duty only. He has a chance to pass Eric Weems as the teams’ No. 4 receiver with Jenkins out of the lineup.
John Parker Wilson, QB – It seems the Falcons decision to enter camp with only three arms (one short of the usual in the NFL) seems to be a smart move since Wilson has performed at a level that makes a fourth arm pointless. Wilson didn’t have a great night statistically, completing 8 of 16 passes for 80 yards, but shined at times making some really good throws and showing his NFL arm.
William Moore, S – Moore has missed time by re-aggravating a groin injury he suffered in the spring. Many expected Moore to be a serious challenger for a starting position at strong safety, but he has yet to prove he can remain healthy for a long enough stretch to give the coaching staff something to think about. Barring some absolutely brilliant performances in the remaining preseason games, it would appear Erik Coleman is locked in as the starter for at least another year.
Antone Smith, RB – Despite leading the Falcons in rushing on Friday night’s game against the Chiefs, Smith had at least two key drops in the passing game. He is in direct competition with undrafted rookie Dimitri Nance for a potential fourth running back spot on the depth chart. Given that spot’s role likely to be limited to third downs and special teams, whichever of the two proves to be the more reliable receiver would likely go a long way to settling the competition.