Falcons coach Dan Quinn is unlikely to play starters against the Denver Broncos in the exhibition opener at 8 p.m. Thursday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
Here of five things on Quinn’s mind heading to the exhibition season opener:
1. The addition of Bailey: Defensive end Allen Bailey was added to help the run defense.
“I think it’s important that where you have big guys that can play outside or inside ... it allows you to play really strong,” Quinn said. “You can imagine a defensive line where Allen is in and Tyeler (Davison) is in, and Grady’s (Jarrett) in, where those are just really strong run fronts as well.”
2. Pass rush package: Quinn, who will serve as his own defensive coordinator, is exploring all of options.
“You can add a package of (Takk) McKinley and (Adrian) Clayborn and (Vic) Beasley, and Jarrett to say, ‘That’s a rush package,’ ” Quinn said. “Having those types of moving parts helps. How do you do it? Practice. And their communication together, the un-required stuff together, like ‘Hey man, I’d like you guys to meet and go through some things together. How do you see it together?’ Those are the things that they need to do a lot of, where on the field, I’m not in there in the huddle. They are the ones that can communicate a lot.”
3. Committee to replace Coleman: Quinn is leaning toward using a committee of running backs to replace Tevin Coleman, who signed with San Francisco in free agency.
"I would say it’d be a different kind of shared role because although I am not discouraged by any of them at all, I’m more encouraged where there hasn’t been a separation,” Quinn said. “Much like we were talking about how to use versatile players, we’re kind of feeling that way at running back, where it might be by some of the skill stuff they have, and how to feature them in that way.”
4. Rookie cornerbacks shining: Early in camp, Kendall Sheffield and Jordan Miller are turning heads. Sheffield was selected in the fourth round and Miller in the fifth round of the draft.
“We’re playing both of them outside and inside,” Quinn said. “Both outside at corner and some nickel. The things that came through from Jordan’s side of things, I really feel his length outside. I think he’s got really good ball skills….For Sheffield, it’s his speed for sure that allows him to stay down. He can run with all the receivers here, and we’ve got some fast ones.”
5. The Benkert show: Quarterback Matt Ryan, and several other veterans, are not likely to see the field in Canton.
“It’s really important for the rookies,” Quinn said. “We’ve got an advantage that thirty teams don’t have, where they get really good game experience. Of course, it’s a really important day for the 25 or so rookies.
“To me, the development players, guys that we really spent a lot of time on last year, the Matt Gonos of the world, Kurt Benkerts, who it’s like, ‘Man, we’ve put a good 13 months into him, let's see where we’re at.’ ”
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