Dolphins Vs. Falcons: Julio Jones, Starting Defense Impressive In Preseason Opener

The Atlanta Falcons open their 2011 preseason schedule Friday night against the Miami Dolphins.

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins: What We Learned About The 2011 Squad

Following the Falcons' 28-23 preseason loss last Friday, there were several things that could be said to sum up the game. The starters played well, the backups seemed a little shaky at times, and John Abraham is still being sent back in pass coverage at the ripe old age of 33. You fail to confuse me, Mr. VanGorder. Some things never change, do they?

However, what does not confuse me are the following points I think we all can take away from the Falcons' first preseason game:

Julio Jones continues to impress
The Alabama wideout continues to look show promise and looks like the receiver we all hoped he would be. Though he only touched the ball three times- two catches and the elusive WR reverse- he turned those touches into 55 total yards. Chief among his criticisms has been that he'll never play up to the speed he showed at the combine, but he has continually disproven that theory. Keep it up, big guy.

The rest of the offense looks well prepared
The Matt Ryan-led offense was able to put up 17 points against a solid Dolphins squad. Turner looks like he's got a fresh pair of legs under him again after carrying the ball 300+ times last season. Harry Douglas also had a really nice game (three catches for 47 yards and a TD). He and Ryan appeared to be very much on the same page, and I expect to see some big plays out him this year.

The defense also played a solid game
Not quite as sharp as the offense, but they did pick of Chad Henne twice (once by Grimes, once by Abraham). They also looked pretty stout against the run, with the D-line looking pretty confident against a so-so Miami offense. Rafael Bush had a really nice game, with two passes defended and a heads-up interception courtesy of a Darrin Walls-tipped pass.

Garrett Reynolds seems perfectly capable at right guard
To be honest, I was a little skeptical at first. The guy was drafted as a tackle and had spent two years riding the pine. But in this game, he showed us what he is best at: opening up those big holes in the running game. While his pass blocking wasn't exactly crisp, I'll be completely fine if he ends up starting at right guard.

Dominique Franks has a leg up on Chris Owens
Owens turned himself into scapegoat of the night after getting burnt for a long touchdown against Miami's backup offense. Not how you want to play when you're trying to win the nickel spot. Franks, although he wasn't outstanding at corner, showed that he can at least hold his own. And of course, you all know I've been a fan of him since day one.

The returner's job may not be as secure as we think
As I'm sure Weems himself would tell you, almost no position is completely safe in the NFL. There's always someone pushing you for playing time. Well, Jacquizz Rodgers and Dominique Franks showed some good stuff while returning kicks and punts, respectively. Could it have simply been good blocking? Maybe. I still think Weems stays on the roster, but having either of those guys as a return man wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

John Parker Wilson and Adam Froman both struggled
While Wilson looked a little bit more in control, he still displayed his noodle arm for all the world to see before being taken out of the game due to a concussion. Froman didn't exactly impress, either. However, Wilson has been familiar with the system for two years, while Froman has been learning it for about two weeks. Given the incredibly short amount of time, that's at least an argument to keep Froman on the practice squad.

Don't count Ken Parrish out just yet
The second-string punter had a pretty impressive game. I still expect Bosher to win the job when all's said and done, but after his good performance Parrish has lived to kick another day.

For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic.

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins Final Score: Julio Jones Shines In 28-23 Preseason Whatever

Though he only played a handful of drives several hours ago, Julio Jones provided the most memorable performance in the Atlanta Falcons 28-23 preseason-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins. And he did it with only three touches, too -- two catches for 20 or more yards each and an end-around, all of them featuring powerful running.

Atlanta targeted him on its first two offensive plays, too. Seeing what the kid can do was clearly task No. 1 for this game.

If you care about why a preseason game was won or lost, you could point to big plays. Chad Henne struck Chris Owens for a 44-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hartline and Philip Livas ran back a 75-yard punt return for another score. Gotta stop those. <-- advice

The Falcons first-string defense was completely dominant, other than that one Henne touchdown. Matt Ryan looked polished (six of 10 for 90 yards), Adam Froman got a chance to show what he can do in a mock-tense situation (six of 13 for 45 yards) and various other things happened. Head to The Falcoholic for details and discussion.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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John Parker Wilson Injury: Falcons QB Taken To Locker Room

Atlanta Falcons QB John Parker Wilson had to be removed from the preseason opener after taking a hard shot to the upper body in the third quarter. A blitzing Chris Clemons sent him whirling to the ground after the ball had left the pocket.

Wilson had a little trouble getting back up, appearing to stagger a little as a few fans could be heard gasping. He was taken into the locker room for what appears to be some sort of head injury. Hopefully nothing serious, but he took a big hit.

Chris Redman will enter the game for JPW. Adam Froman's entrance will have to wait.

In other news:

Laurence Sidbury's pressure and a tip by Darrin Walls conspired to provide a trailing Rafael Bush with an interception.

Brandyn Harvey made a terrific, toe-tapping catch of a John Parker Wilson dagger, bringing Brent Grimes darting across the sideline to lobby refs in favor of the completion. Jacquizz Rodgers finally made his debut in the middle of the third -- he's a tougher runner than most would expect.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins Update: The Great John Parker Wilson, Matt Moore Duel Rages On

The Atlanta Falcons first team looked better than did the Miami Dolphins first team. After that, everything turned into preseason football. The Dolphins tacked on a touchdown from Matt Moore to Roberto Wallace just before the half to make it 17-14.

At one point Shann Schillinger gave up a long catch, going for a big hit instead of wrapping up. Chris Owens cleaned up the mess. Schillinger then came up tight in run coverage, spoiling a rushing attempt. Shortly afterward, UDFA Darrin Walls got burned by speedy Edmond Gates near the end zone -- it would've been a touchdown if Moore could've dropped it in.

The defensive line has been getting decent pressure all night. Trey Lewis was the latest to arrive near Matt Moore. On a subsequent play, Laurence Sidbury and Peria Jerry convinced him to take flight. Even on that touchdown, Moore ended up on the turf.

The Falcons line had kept John Parker Wilson clean until a blitzing Jimmy Wilson slipped through a crevice left when Garrett Reynolds assisted with a DL.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Atlanta Falcons Vs. Miami Dolphins Score: Chris Owens Gives Up TD, Defense Otherwise Solid

Perhaps the most-contentious training camp battle on the Atlanta Falcons roster: nickel back, where incumbent Chris Owens faces off with Dominique Franks and supposedly Rafael Bush. A 44-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to Brian Hartline with Owens in coverage will count as a point against Owens.

Harry Douglas has added a couple catches to his earlier touchdown, with one a reception in traffic despite a face masking penalty.

In other position battles, Garrett Reynolds got blown up once in pass protection but has yet to otherwise do anything to make the casual eye notice him. John Parker Wilson, making a bid for a future backup job, is doing a good job of getting the ball out quickly, but threw a pick to a lunging Benny Sapp when he failed to lead Douglas on an out route. Mike Peterson, who's already accepted a backup spot, scored a sack.

Matt Moore, former Carolina Panthers QB, took over for Henne. I remember this guy. Pretty annoying to watch your team play against him, as he is so skittery. Corey Peters did a fantastic job of generating enough pressure to get Moore skittering out of the pocket and into an awkward throw. Atlanta's defense, except for that touchdown, is looking pretty good.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins Score: Brent Grimes Picks Chad Henne, Sets Up Field Goal

Brent Grimes' name should always have an exclamation point after it. Brent Grimes! forced Chad Henne's second interception of the first quarter, skying to pull down the ball before running it back horizontally across the field.

John Parker Wilson took over at QB instead of Chris Redman. He used a sweet rollout -- the kind of play Matt Ryan doesn't really like -- to find an open Kerry Meier, who's returning after missing his rookie year due to injury. Wilson overthrew a tightly covered Justin Peelle. Wilson's next pass was tipped away.

Matt Bryant stepped right up and drilled a field goal to make it 17-0. That score doesn't really mean anything, but it's pretty.

So far the Falcons have outgained the Dolphins 163 yards to five. That means slightly more than does the score, but still just about nothing. Also pretty though.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Julio Jones Attacking, Harry Douglas Scores For Falcons Vs. Dolphins

The Atlanta Falcons offense was supposed to play only two series against the Miami Dolphins, but stuck around for three, so here I am typing up everything that happens.

The Michael Turner plan was cut short on the opening play of drive No. 3.

And then Matt Ryan found Julio Jones over the middle, connecting for 22 yards. It took two Dolphins to drag a leg-pumping Jones to the turf. He is my favorite NFL player. Then an end-around to Jones went for a first down, with Roddy White displaying an obnoxious block on a Dolphins corner.

Jason Snelling also showed off a little land-and-air versatility, carrying the ball for a gain before providing a dumpoff for Ryan. Eric Weems made a nice catch of a stern dart over the middle -- really hammering the middle of the field -- for 18 yards. Ryan is getting some great protection, though it's just preseason. Still, not a bad sign for Garrett Reynolds, who's starting at right guard.

Harry Douglas concluded the drive by making a great 20-yard catch in double coverage for the score.

The defense is looking stiff against the run, allowing nary a yard on two attempts by some cat named Daniel Thomas. If you can shut down Daniel Thomas in the preseason, your defense is really going places. As a whole, Atlanta's D has forced a turnover and a three-and-out.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins: Julio Jones' First NFL Catch Leads To Michael Turner Touchdown

If the Atlanta Falcons offense is switching up its style, the defense doesn't appear to be, based on early returns. On the second Miami Dolphins play from scrimmage, a Chad Henne pass doinked off his intended receiver and into John Abraham's hands.

What was Abe doing back there? The same thing he's always doing back there. Any problems with that can be taken up with Brian VanGorder's mustache.

The Birds broke out the vintage offense on their next drive, with Michael Turner breaking two productive runs for 21 yards before a play action pass into double coverage failed to find Tony Gonzalez. Kind of looked like interference.

And then explosive arrived -- Julio Jones caught his first pass, turning a drag route into 21 yards. Um, he's a full-grown NFL player, in case you haven't heard yet. Jason Snelling banged near the goal line, and Turner punched in the touchdown.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins: First Drive Hints At What 'Explosive' Means

After an offseason filled with talk about the Atlanta Falcons offense needing to get more explosive, the preseason opener's first drive against the Miami Dolphins might have showed a taste of what's in store. On play No. 1, Matt Ryan tried to lob one into the basket of Julio Jones, who was streaking up the sideline and had beaten his man.

Ryan tried to find Jones again on second down, but that play was broken up. The third play looked to be turning into a long pass towards Roddy White, but the Dolphins pass rush forced an incompletion.

It's not the results that are interesting, but the intent. As far as playcalling goes, that really didn't look like the 2010 Falcons offense.

Matt Bosher made his debut at punter, and ... well, that's why you play preseason games. His 37-yard punt barely crossed midfield before warbling to the ground.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins Matchups: Matt Ryan Could Be Tested Against Miami Secondary

The Atlanta Falcons kick off their first game of the NFL preseason later Friday night against the Miami Dolphins. Even though it's only an exhibition game, there's plenty to be gleaned from watching the contest (viewing information here).

Dave Choate broke down three of the key matchups to watch over at SB Nation's own Falcoholics, and while the defensive front seven and rookie punter Matt Bosher don't have an easy task ahead of them, the most interesting thing to watch might be where Matt Ryan is with regards to his receivers.

This game will be the first chance to see if Ryan, Roddy White and rookie Julio Jones have been able to develop any sort of chemistry in the abbreviated off season. As Choate notes, the Dolphins' secondary is no slouch

Sean Smith and Vontae Davis spring readily to mind. The Dolphins made physical cornerback play a priority by drafting the enormous Smith (6'3") and the talented Davis. Neither has truly lived up to their potential yet, but both are young and present tough matchups for Roddy Whiteand Julio Jones.

Heck, even the second stringers are going to be trouble. Will Allen and Nolan Carroll aren't exactly slouches, so it'll be interesting to see how some of our guys duking it out for a roster spot hold up. Yeremiah Bell and Chris Clemons aren't spectacular, either, but they're solid.

So the Falcons will get to try out their high octane passing game against a competent secondary. It's not the Eagles, but it'll do for a start.

If the matchup analysis is not enough to get everyone excited, just be excited football is back!

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins, NFL Preseason: What Miami Expects To Learn

The Atlanta Falcons open their 2011 preseason schedule Aug. 12 against the Miami Dolphins in the Georgia Dome; please click here for Falcons vs. Dolphins TV and radio schedule.

We have a pretty decent handle on what the Falcons are looking for in their opener Friday evening, but what of their opponent? To get an idea of what the Dolphins hope to learn from Friday's contest, we checked The Phinsider.

Kevin Nogle explains how tonight's combatants are linked despite playing in different leagues: in 2008, the Dolphins used the first overall pick on Jake Long, who developed into an All-Pro left tackle. Atlanta, in turn, selected quarterback Matt Ryan, who's led his club to a 33-13 record as a starter and made his first Pro Bowl appearance last season. "I will never complain about the draft choice," Nogle writes, citing Long's brilliance at left tackle. "However [...] one can't help but wonder where this team would be if the 2008 draft had gone differently."

Of note: Long will not play against the Falcons due to a left leg injury; t team has placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Miami coach Tony Sparano doesn't expect too much excitement from Friday's game, writes Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post:

Because the NFL lockout wiped out the off-season program, Sparano needs the four pre-season games more than ever to evaluate young players and sort out the few position battles.

Volin says the Dolphins' core of youngsters, which includes a whopping 18 rookies, "will do most of the hitting" against Atlanta.

At the Dolphins' official website, Andy Kent writes Sparano will pay extra close attention to first-round pick Mike Pouncey, a center, as he battles "a speedy Atlanta defensive front."

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Falcons Vs. Dolphins Game Time, TV Schedule And More

It's the first week of the NFL preseason, and the Atlanta Falcons are set to take on the Miami Dolphins in the Georgia Dome this Friday, August 12 at 7:30 PM ET.

TV: CBS Atlanta, WFOR Miami (additionally, there's an online package available from NFL.com)

Radio: 790 The Zone and Star 94 FM (Atlanta), 560 WQAM Sports Radio (Miami)

After a seemingly endless wait, NFL football is finally back! With it still only the first week of live games, expect starters on both teams to only play for a series or two. The real focus of this game will be evaluating several of the younger, less experienced players fighting to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

For the Falcons, the biggest storyline will be rookie wideout and first-round pick Julio Jones. With Michael Jenkins gone, the Falcons appear ready to usher in the Julio era in Atlanta. Jones has received almost universal praise around the league for his training camp performance thus far, and fans will be eagerly awaiting his professional debut.

Beyond Jones, Michael Turner will make his first appearance following his under-wraps offseason surgery, as will linebacker Curtis Lofton. Newly added defensive end Ray Edwards, who also had a procedure done this offseason, will not make his Falcons debut. Be sure to check out the unofficial depth chart released by the team earlier this week for more info.

While normally these games don't hold much weight, with such limited offseason preparation they have become more important this season than ever before. Expect the Falcons to take full advantage. Are you ready for some football?

For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic.

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Falcons Injury Report: Ray Edwards Out, Michael Turner In Vs. Dolphins

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards underwent knee surgery during the NFL lockout and will not play in the Falcons' preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins on Friday, coach Mike Smith told the media Wednesday morning. Smith said the surgery was "a minor procedure." Edwards had retreated to the locker room before the media were allowed to speak to the players, so he has yet to offer any public comment himself.

Edwards joined the Falcons as a free agent, having spent the first five seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. In 2010, he tallied eight sacks and 28 tackles in 14 appearances.

Additionally, running back Michael Turner, who earned a Pro Bowl berth after leading Atlanta with 1371 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010, also underwent surgery during the lockout. His operation was on his groin, but Smith says Turner will play Friday against Miami. He had missed the last two days of practice for personal reasons, but returned Wednesday.

Please visit The Falcoholic for more on the Falcons. The Phinsider is your source for all Dolphins news.

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Dolphins Vs. Falcons, NFL Preseason: Are You Ready For Rushed, Sloppy Football?

The Atlanta Falcons open their 2011 preseason schedule Friday night against the Miami Dolphins.

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