Despite losing on Thursday night, the Falcons had a much better showing than they did during their first loss against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Here are six things we learned from the game on Thursday night.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE CAN BLOCK FOR STEVEN JACKSON
A big concern after the first preseason game was the lack of push that the Falcons got against the Bengals in terms of trying to run the ball. Starting running back Steven Jackson only had eight yards on five carries in that game.
Jackson got the ball more, and the Falcons starting offensive line was pushing Baltimore's starting defensive line back and opening up lanes for the veteran running back. Jackson played about a quarter and a half and finished with eight carries for 42 yards. A vast improvement over last week.
The Falcons offensive line played some physical football when running the ball throughout the game. As a team the Falcons finished with 170 yards rushing. Some of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt as a large percentage of this came against Ravens back up players, but regardless, it was good to see the Falcons run the ball like it was 2008.
LAMAR HOLMES STILL HAS SOME WORK TO DO
Lamar Holmes is still getting his feet wet when it comes to NFL football, and for the most part he's been solid. He's been tested the last two weeks playing against two very good defensive lines in the Bengals and the Ravens. On Thursday night he was beaten a couple of times by the Ravens defensive line. One play in particular was when DE Elvis Dumervil went right around Holmes uncontested and nailed Matt Ryan before the 100 million dollar man knew what was happening. Ryan was able to get rid of the ball before Dumervil got to him, but this was something we didn't see too often last year against opposing defenses. Sure Ryan was sacked last year, so was every quarterback in the league.
But you never really saw the Falcons offensive line whiff badly against opposing rushers, leaving them uncontested last season. With this new look offensive line, there will be some growing pains. We'll have to see if Holmes and the rest of the line can make the adjustments necessary to keep their quarterback on his feet consistently.
Holmes had a solid game, but he can't afford to miss a block like that during the regular season.
SPECIAL TEAMS GIVES UP ANOTHER PUNT RETURN FOR A TOUCHDOWN
Last week, the Falcons special teams gave up a punt return for a touchdown. This week they also gave up a punt return for a touchdown. Plays like this can become game changers in the regular season. The special teams did a good job overall on punt and kick returns against opposing teams so far, but on both of these returns for a touchdown, the Falcons have done a bad job at pursuing the ball carrier and working around opposing blockers.
This is something that special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong must improve upon in the coming weeks.
DOMINIQUE DAVIS VASTLY IMPROVED, BECOMES VIRTUAL LOCK FOR 2ND QB SPOT
Dominique Davis had a much better game this week than he did last week. Davis went 8/10 for 98 yards and had a couple of very efficient drives. He also had a couple of nice rushes and had a much better tempo overall than he did against Cincinnati last week.
Sean Renfree came in late in the game and any chance he had for the second string QB spot went up in smoke after he went 8/16 for 63 yards, averaging 3.6 yards per pass and having miscommunications with his receivers on multiple plays.
There were times when he would attempt a pass to one spot on the field when his receiver was in a completely different spot on the field. Whether this was his fault or his receivers' fault isn't known, but neither Matt Ryan nor Dominique Davis had this issue.
With his strong performance, Davis has unofficially wrapped up the number 2 QB spot on the team.
PAUL WORRILOW, KING OF UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
Paul Worrilow had another fantastic game for the Falcons. For the second consecutive week, he finished with the team high in tackles. He recorded six tackles, and also registered his first sack of the preseason. At the very least Worrilow should make special teams. In two games, he's really proving he has an excellent nose for the ball carrier and has been the best player amongst the undrated free agent linebackers that the Falcons are running out there.
BRIAN BANKS' CHANCES TO MAKE THE TEAM ARE SLIPPING
Brian Banks did not register any tackles during his short period of playing time this week, and because of this, it appears that the Falcons aren't too high on the long shot linebacker.
In both preseason games he's entered late in the fourth quarter and hasn't received a lot of playing time. It appears that his time with the Falcons is numbered, which is a shame considering everything he has had to overcome to get to this point.
There are still two weeks left for Banks to prove himself, but with the little playing time he's receiving, it's hard to see Banks getting a spot on the 53 man roster at this point.
What did you see that impressed you or made you concerned on Thursday night? Let us know in the comments section.
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