As you continue to count down the days until the Falcons first preseason game against Miami, the days until live football will be played, let me deflate your hopes by reminding you that this is basically a glorified practice. Score means nothing. Play calling also means nothing. The starters will be in for maybe a series or two.
However, what you can look forward to is watching a bunch of third- and fourth-stringers battle it out for a roster spot. There's a decent chance you won't know any of them. Also, as my colleague Jason has already pointed out, you likely will won't be treated to the highest level of play, with several players still trying to shake off the rust of a long offseason. How's that for a reality check?
That said, now that the Falcons have released their unofficial depth chart for the Miami game here are a storylines to watch out for in the first preseason game (the preseason is rife with drama):
1. Ray Edwards
Okay, obviously I don't need to tell you to pay attention to this guy. All eyes in the Georgia Dome will be glued on the Falcons' $30M DE. With Edwards being the only outside free agent signed this offseason, I'm very interested to see how well he can pick up the defense in such a short amount of time.
2. Garrett Reynolds
Reynolds has been given the nominal start at right guard over Mike Johnson. Add in the fact that Johnson is out with a concussion, and you realize that Reynolds could claim the starting job as his own with some good play against the Dolphins.
3. Kerry Meier
The second-year wideout out of Kansas has had a good camp so far. He flashed some hands in the "Friday Night Lights" scrimmage before it was rained out, and appears almost completely healthy following his ACL-tear last season. With the team expecting him to fulfill the "slow white receiver" (AKA Finneran) role, he'll need to show that his knee is at full strength.
4. Chris Owens/Dominique Franks
Both are battling for the nickelback spot and both should see a large number of snaps in Friday's game. At this point I'd still say Franks is the underdog,but he's gotten quite the bit of praise from his coaching staff recently.
5. Matt Bosher
Assuming he can remain mistake-free on Friday, Bosher should be able to finally win the starting punter job outright with some good kicks. But alas, you never really know with punters (well, the one exception being you know they're not worth $19M).
6. Darrin Walls/Kamaal McIlwain
One of these guys will likely make the roster as the team's fifth cornerback. Both were UDFAs, and both have had pretty good camps thus far. McIlwain in particular has received drawn some attention, with Pat Yasinskas calling him "the most impressive of the undrafted rookie free agents" on the Falcons.
7. Adam Froman
Froman currently sits at fourth-string on the QB depth chart. If he wants a shot at unseating John Parker Wilson or even just making the practice squad, he has to show the coaching staff he is capable of coming in and being a "game manager."
8. Rafael Bush
Many fans, myself included, had clamored for a veteran backup at safety following the Edwards signing. Clearly the coaching staff is confident that Bush can handle the backup job at this point. Hopefully he can instill some confidence in me after this week's game.
For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic.