Julio Jones, AJ Green Provide Tough Tests for Tonight’s Defenses

Julio Jones, AJ Green Provide Tough Tests for Tonight’s Defenses

Jay Adams

Published August 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM

The starters will be on a snap count tonight, as head coach Mike Smith said earlier this week, but until they reach that number, there are some interesting matchups that will occur and could provide a test for both teams. The Falcons will have to handle Bengals wide receiver AJ Green while Cincinnati will be tasked with trying to slow Julio Jones — a feat that Baltimore couldn’t accomplish a week ago in the first preseason game of 2012.

Falcons secondary vs. Bengals WR AJ Green
It’s no secret that two years ago in the NFL Draft, Georgia’s AJ Green was closely tied with Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones in the talent department as not much separated the two. Green went to Cincinnati, Jones came to the Falcons and the rest is history. Still, the Falcons secondary will have a tough test in trying to keep the second-year WR contained. Practicing every day against Jones should certainly help, but a good measure of where the secondary is at this point will be shown in Green’s stat line at the end of the night.

Falcons WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones vs. Bengals secondary
Speaking of Jones, teaming up with Roddy White tonight creates an interesting matchup with Cincinnati’s cornerbacks. Leon Hall and Nate Clements are two top tier cornerbacks in the NFL and will be tough to contend with. Jones’ outstanding camp and his comfort this year, however, may prove to be the separating factor between these two position groups. A more comfortable Julio Jones could mean more attention on him, which could in turn open things up even more for the always-dangerous White.

Falcons offensive line vs. Bengals defensive front
You’ll be hard pressed to find any game in 2012 when the Falcons offensive line isn’t featured as one of the top and most important matchups. The Bengals defense presents an interesting challenge with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s scheme. With big tackles Domata Peko and Geno Atkins in the middle, and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga lurking behind them, the challenge to keep Matt Ryan upright and Michael Turner running free is very real.

Falcons defensive ends vs. Bengals offensive tackles
John Abraham and Ray Edwards — along with Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury — are charged with a big task of being the force that kickstarts the Falcons’ pass rush. Against Bengals tackles Andrew Whitworth (left side) and Andre Smith (right), the four DEs will get a chance to see what they can do against some very sizey competition. Smith goes 6-4, 335 and Whitworth checks in at 6-7, 330. The speed coming off the edge for the Falcons could be an advantage if they can get that extra quick step on the big men.

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