Last Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons only scored six points against the Miami Dolphins. Although quarterback Matt Ryan put up a respectable 12/22 for 129 yards, he did throw an interception in the red zone. Wide-Receiver Julio Jones was held out with an ankle injury and Devonta Freeman only rushed eight yards on five carries. Although the offense took a few steps back from last week’s game at Cleveland, Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn was sure to remind the media many of those errors have been cleaned up. With that, I’ll get into my Four Keys!
- What’s up with Keanu Neal?: He had his knee scoped Monday and will be out three to four weeks, which rules him out of the season opener against Tampa Bay and at least through Week 2 at Oakland. His backup, Kemal Ishmael, is also battling a shoulder injury, but took part in individual drills and the walk-through according to Coach Quinn. The Falcons signed safety Dashon Goldson Sunday to add depth.
- Will Julio be okay?: The All-Pro receiver suffered an ankle injury against Miami, will not play against the Jaguars Thursday night. Quinn is confident he will be ready for the regular-season opener. Also, rookie wide receiver Devin Fuller, who suffered a shoulder injury, will not play against Jacksonville. Expect to see Justin Hardy, Nick Williams, J.D. McKissic and David Glidden to see major playing time.
- Will the offense ever get cleaned up?: The answer won’t be totally known until after Week One against Tampa Bay. However, here’s how quarterback Matt Ryan responded when asked after last Thursday’s loss in Orlando: ‘What are a few of the areas offensively that you want to make sure get cleaned up before the first game of season?’
“Certainly, we want to score more points. That is probably the biggest thing. We need to find ways to get the ball in the end zone. That will be a point of emphasis for us and has been in the past. We need to clean up some procedural stuff, pre-snap things, operate a little better. We also need to limit turnovers. We can’t turn the football over and expect to win. Those are the main things we need to clean up before the regular season starts.”
- Rookie linebackers De’Vondre Campbell is making huge strides: The rookie has taken everything Coach Quinn has thrown at him and applied it quickly on the practice field and successfully taken those lessons to the game. Campbell credits it to his time at Hutchinson Junior College prior to becoming a Golden Gopher at the University of Minnesota.
“I think I’m doing really good,” Campbell said after Thursday’s game against the Dolphins. “I don’t get nervous. I don’t get rattled. Every time they throw something new at me, I take it like a grain of salt and adjust on the go. I think I’ve been doing really good. Coach thinks I’ve been doing really good. I am a typical rookie – I make mistakes, but the biggest thing is to correct them and keep pushing.”
The Falcons and the Jaguars face off at the Georgia Dome Thursday night, with kickoff at 7pm.