The Falcons are set to open the exhibition season against the Dolphins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Here’s are the five things that Falcons coach Dan Quinn wants to see in the game:
1. Offensive tempo. The quarterback rotation will be Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matt Simms and Alex Torgerson.
Ryan will likely play just one series.
Wide receivers Julio Jones (foot) and Taylor Gabrield (lower leg) will not play against the Dolphins.
Running back Kelvin Taylor, who was signed on Tuesday, may get some action.
“Offensively, it’s really that tempo,” Quinn said. “In and out of the huddle. It’s always going to be about the ball. But we are looking for that crispness. The sharpness. (Can they get) out of the huddle. The communication. That part is important to us.”
2. Defensive speed. Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen, who has a sore shoulder, will likely be held out.
The Falcons have not made a decision on rookie defensive end Takkarist McKinley, who’s recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
He’s receiving about half of the repetitions in practice.
“Defensively, I’d love to see our speed come to life,” Quinn said. “This is our first chance at tackling. We’ve worked hard at (tackling.) The leverage. Those are the things we’ll be looking for defensively.”
3. Player evaluations. The Falcons must find a right guard and backup swing tackle.
Ben Garland is slated to start at right guard followed by Wes Schweitzer. The two are battling to replace Chris Chester, who retired over the offseason.
The Falcons need someone to step forward in the tackle group behind right tackle Ryan Schraeder and left tackle Jake Matthews.
Kevin Graf and Daniel Brunskill are listed with the second time on the depth chart. Graf (right arm injury) will not play in the game.
The third team tackles are Will Freeman and Andreas Knappe. Marquis Lucas and D.J. Tialavea, the converted tight end, are the fourth-team tackles.
“There are so many evaluations to get on all of the players,” Quinn said. “I do love this time. So many guys are going to be going for it, trying to put their best foot forward. For a coach, certainly with our staff, it’s an exciting time. We love seeing these games.”
4. Play fast. Speedy linebacker Jermaine Grace and defensive end J’Terius Jones will get extensive time.
“We want the guys to be really clear headed,” Quinn said. “The plan and the scheme at this time isn’t as important as the evaluation and (we want) a guy to really feel like he can let it rip. The scheme part, there won’t be any new concepts or a game plan so to speak. We want to stay almost in our camp mode of doing things. How aggressively, how fast and how explosive can you play?”
5. Game situations. The Falcons want to see some game situations come up.
“Third downs, two minutes and short yardage,” Quinn said. “That’s important. Past that, man can they really haul.”
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