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Friday, August 12, 2011
Three things: Falcons-Dolphins

By Pat Yasinskas

Three things to watch for in Atlanta’s preseason opener against visiting Miami on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.

The competition at nickelback. Christopher Owens and Dominique Franks are the two guys in contention. All indications that they’ve performed equally well in training camp so far. But how they fare in the preseason games could be the deciding factor.

The impact of Julio Jones. I’m not expecting the Falcons to throw the whole playbook out there in the first preseason game and the starters won’t be on the field too long. But don’t be surprised if you see the Falcons take at least one deep shot to their rookie wide receiver. That is, after all, the reason he was drafted.

The pass rush. Free-agent Ray Edwards won’t be playing as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. He’s supposed to be the guy that upgrades Atlanta’s pass rush. But keep an eye on how the rest of the pass rush fares tonight. The Falcons know what they have in veteran John Abraham and believe they have a pretty good idea of what they’ll get from Edwards when he does play. But there’s hope among the coaches that the arrival of Edwards might fire up guys such as Lawrence Sidbury, Kroy Biermann and Chauncey Davis and make them more productive.