When it comes to exhibition, I mean, preseason games, just about everyone knows the drill by now. For most teams, the starters will be off the field and wearing baseball caps before fans at the game can settle into their seats with their first beer and order of nachos. These August play-dates consist of second and third string plus bottom feeders all hoping for one play to catch the coach’s eye.
Still, for a team like the Falcons, they have position groups that they are trying to rebuild while adding fresh, young talent to important positions. That’s why playing that extra preseason game, the Hall of Fame Game against the Denver Broncos, is so important for the Falcons. With a lack of padded practices allowed in training camp the Falcons need as much game time as possible to get their offensive line and secondary set.
Offensive line play obviously requires talent but once you believe you have it, turning five individuals into a unit takes repetition which means, the more snaps the better. Free agent signees James Carpenter and Jamon Brown understand their positions and are used to the speed of the NFL game.
It’s going to be Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary who are going to need all the snaps they can get with the first unit, and second unit as well. Having a fifth preseason game to work will be gold to them.
That fifth game will also have the same value for Isaiah Oliver as he transitions to becoming a starting cornerback and Damontae Kazee, who is changing position to replace Brian Poole as the nickel cornerback in 2019.
It doesn’t sound like a big change for Kazee but there are a lot of adjustments when moving to the nickel position. He’s going to be in the middle of the field covering either the slot receiver or tight end. Kazee will need to make quick reads on the routes that are coming at him and be quick with his feet to establish position. He’s also not going to have the sideline to help limit what moves a receiver can use against him.
It’s going to be a long August before the season finally kicks off on September 8 in Minnesota against the Vikings. For young Falcons players who need snaps though, that’s a good thing.