On a day when the NFL and NFLPA were ordered back to the negotiating table, the Falcons released their 2011 exhibition season schedule on Tuesday.
If the lockout is lifted in time, the Falcons will play home games against Miami on Friday, Aug. 12 and Baltimore on Thursday, Sept. 1. The team will play road games at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19 at Jacksonville and at Pittsburgh, with the date and time to be determined.
The Jacksonville game will be televised nationally by Fox. The Falcons’ new television partner, CBS Atlanta, will televise the other three games.
It will be the Falcons third visit to Jacksonville over the last four seasons. The two teams have met seven times overall in the exhibition season with the Falcons posting a 3-4 record.
Under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons have posted 2-2 marks during the exhibition seasons in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Falcons have not suffered a losing exhibition season record since 2004.
The key game in the exhibition season is the third game because starters receive extended playing time. The Falcons, if labor disaster is averted, will play their third game against the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Falcons and Steelers have met four times in the exhibition season with the Steelers leading the series 4-0.
The judge overseeing the lawsuit filed in federal court has ordered the league and union to mediation starting on Thursday.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog