Eight Players to Watch: Falcons at Ravens

Eight Players to Watch: Falcons at Ravens

Jay Adams

Published August 15, 2013 at 8:00 AM

The Falcons are set for their first road game of the preseason, against the Baltimore Ravens, on Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium, and with 90 players on the roster, there are plenty of key battles and positions to keep an eye on.

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Just like last week, we know you’ll want to keep an eye on players like Steven Jackson, Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Osi Umenyiora and other newcomers, but this space is reserved for players you may not know much about or simply players who haven’t gotten a ton of attention this preseason.

Here are eight under-the-radar Falcons that are deserving of your attention Thursday night, in no particular order:

  • P Matt Bosher: I know, I know. You’re thinking, “But, Jay, Bosher has been with the team for three years and he’s the starting punter,” and my retort to that, other than simply sticking my tongue out, is that punters generally fly under the radar, even when they’re crushing it. And that’s exactly what Bosher’s been doing. Head coach Mike Smith went out of his way this week to praise Bosher for finishing the game against Cincinnati with an average of 47.9 yards per punt. Bosher is key for the Falcons when it comes to field position, so keep an eye on the star punter.
  • LB Paul Worrilow: Last week in this space, you read about linebacker Joplo Bartu and Nick Clancy, which shows just how big of a difference a single game can make. Worrilow had 11 tackles in last week’s preseason debut and he’s set the bar very high for himself through the next three preseason games. The big question this week is whether or not he can get close to repeating the same performance he had against the Bengals, which automatically makes him a player to watch.
  • OL Phillipkeith Manley: The big 309-pound offensive lineman has a cult following on Twitter and many of those fans believe he’ll be on the field for the Falcons sooner rather than later. Offensive line coach Pat Hill said earlier this week that Manley has been cross-training at left tackle a bit, which is a departure from his work at guard. Hill expects Manley to get some live play at left tackle this week, and if that happens, you’ll want to watch to see how he does.
  • OT Lamar Holmes: The leader in the race for the starting right tackle position played more offensive snaps last week than any player, and Holmes will once again see a ton of work against the Ravens as the coaching staff continues to evaluate the position. He’s been splitting reps in practice with Alec Savoie and Ryan Schraeder, but Schraeder appears to be his closest competition. If Holmes is going to lock that spot up, he’ll be doing it in the next three games.
  • WR Harry Douglas: When Douglas broke off a 42-yard screen play during last week’s loss to Cincinnati, I couldn’t have been any less surprised. That’s because Douglas has had a tremendous camp, from all appearances. Lined up against some talented secondary members in practices, Douglas has rarely come out on the bottom end of a matchup, and he looks like he’s really turning into that slot weapon the Falcons want him to be.
  • DT Adam Replogle: Here’s another player who showed up Thursday night as a surprise, but the most impressive stat you’ll find on the undrafted rookie out of Indiana is the number of snaps he took against Cincinnati. He was in for 43 plays and was credited with three tackles, which is a pretty good showing for a defensive tackle. He may not make the kind of impact Worrilow did in the stat book, but there’s something about a player who was on the field for 58 percent of the snaps last week, and it could be that the coaching staff wants to take a good, long look at him.
  • DE Jonathan Massaquoi: A late-rounder in last year’s draft, Massaquoi looks to be in a good spot to vie for more playing time this year. He had a nice outing against Cincinnati last week, but the Falcons will be looking for consistency in getting to the quarterback from the young defensive end. He had a sack and two quarterback hits last week, so the goal for him will be to do it again.
  • RB Antone Smith: Another veteran here on eight to watch, Smith is worth keeping an eye on because of an injury that caused him to miss some valuable camp practices and a couple of rookie running backs trying to nip at his heels. With Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling sitting at the top three spots on the depth chart here, Smith is trying to hold onto the fourth spot. An invaluable special teamer, Smith would likely have to see the rookies Ronnie Wingo and Donald Russell perform at a high level on kickoff, kick return, punt and punt return to see his job in danger, but anything can happen.

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