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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.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.