Ravens vs. Falcons: 5 players to watch tonight

Atlanta Falcons running back Dimitri Nance (30) does a little "Dirty Bird" dance in the endzone after scoring a 1-yard touchdown run for a 17-3 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs during 4th quarter action in the exhibition season opener at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons running back Dimitri Nance (30) does a little "Dirty Bird" dance in the endzone after scoring a 1-yard touchdown run for a 17-3 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs during 4th quarter action in the exhibition season opener at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – Hey, y’all remember Dimitri Nance, right?

He ran hard for the Falcons during the 2010 exhibition season and made the practice squad.

Much to the consternation of the Falcons, Nance was plucked off the practice squad by the Green Bay Packers.

On their way to the Super Bowl title, Nance played in 12 games for the Pack. He had 36 rushes for 95 yards. He played in the playoff game against the Eagles, but was inactive for the rest of the playoffs, including the Packers win over the Falcons.

However, he still picked up a Super Bowl ring and he has it with him in his dorm room in Flowery Branch for motivation.

“I keep it close to me at all times,” Nance said. “I got the Super Bowl ring, but I really didn’t play in the game. That’s motivation to try to get back to the Super Bowl and be a part of it and play in the game.”

The Falcons were the NFC’s No. 1 seed when the Packers pummeled them at the Georgia Dome.

“I was on the winning side, but I still knew a lot of guys on the Falcons’ sideline,” Nance said. “It was interesting. I was just happy. I was on that team at the time, so that’s who I wanted to win.”

Nance knows that he will get some action against the Ravens and against the Bengals.

“The first couple of games, the second and third stringers are going to get in a lot,” Nance said. “I’m expecting to get a lot of action to prove myself.”

In addition to Nance, here are some players to watch in tonight’s exhibition opener against the Baltimore Ravens at 7:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome.

Kerry Meier, wide receiver: With Eric Weems off to Chicago, Meier can wrap up the No. 4 wide receiver spot with a strong showing.

Meier has to learn all of the wide receiver spots.

“There is a lot of stuff that I need to do,” Meier said.

He’s expecting a lot of action against the Ravens.

“The key is kind of cutting loose and getting back into the swing of things in game situations,” Meier said. “We’ve kind of been grinding in training camp, so it’s going to be a good chance for us to go out and get into a live game situation.”

Meier doesn’t believe the Falcons have too much on his plate.

“It’s great, that’s what we come here to do,” Meier said. “I want to show these coaches and show these teammates that I’m capable of doing the things they’ve asked me to do. We can simulate as much as we can out on the practice field, but it’s not until we get in a game situations that guys will step out of their comfort zone and make plays.

“This is going to be a great chance for not only the young guys, but for me because I consider myself a young guy trying to prove every day that I belong here. Each day, I’m trying to take a step in the right direction. Thursday will be another big step for us.”

Robert James, linebacker: He is running with the second-team after being developed on the practice squad. He was a fifth-round pick in 2008 and has mostly been on the practice squad. He played in one regular-season game in 2009 and one in 2011.

Michael Calvin, wide receiver: The fleet receiver from California flashed his 4.3 speed in the Friday Night Lights event. He also showed off some nice hands with a difficult catch on a deep pass.

Dominique Davis, quarterback: He has been much more accurate with his passes and had a fine showing in the controlled practice against the Titans in Dalton. He could push John Parker Wilson for the No. 3 spot.

THE LATEST NEWS

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DE Lawrence Sidbury & WR Michael Calvin shine at Friday Nights Lights event

Falcons sign DT Conrad Obi (Grayson High and Colorado)

Michael Palmer is the No. 1 Y-Tight end right now

6 questions with rookie safety Charles Mitchell

A season of promise for White-Jones receiving duo

Matt Ryan rested for Thursday’s practice; Vance Walker suffers undisclosed injury

Former Falcon Chris Doleman to be enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

5 things you don’t know about Hall of Famer Chris Doleman

OTHER TOP STORIES

5 questions with right tackle Tyson Clabo

Professor Ledbetter hands out first quarter training-camp grades for the rookies

Former Falcons running back Art Malone passed away, 1948-2012

New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter say Matt Ryan is a Top 10 quarterback

Asante Samuel takes offense with notion that he’s in steep decline

Falcons counting on Sean Weatherspoon’s playmaking ability

Former Alabama linebacker Jerrell Harris turning some heads at camp

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

94 comments Add your comment

prepdaa

August 9th, 2012
8:03 am

Enter your comments here

Mike is Back

August 9th, 2012
8:04 am

DLed, Great prelude to the much anticipated start of the preseason…I will be watching those guys…I think at least three of guys can make the squad.

prepdaa

August 9th, 2012
8:04 am

Esquire

August 9th, 2012
8:05 am

“RISE UP”

First time Season Tix Holder

August 9th, 2012
8:14 am

Are beers really $8?

Atlanta : The Latest Fuzz

August 9th, 2012
8:18 am

[...] Ravens vs. Falcons: 5 players to watch tonight – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

SeenThis B4

August 9th, 2012
8:18 am

Don’t you think that instead of watching individual “bubble” players you should be watching what the offensive and defensive schemes will be? Especially when the 1s are in?

Country boy

August 9th, 2012
8:22 am

I’m watching Akeem Dent our untested ML. Huge piece to the seasons puzzle.

prepdaa

August 9th, 2012
8:29 am

Micheal Calvin needs to step up. He could be the key to the entire offense. A 4 wide set with him allows Jones,White and Douglas to pretty much have single coverage. The opposing free safety would have to do his job and remain deep at all times. That would screem white and harry over the middle loose as a goose. Along with opening the screen game for Jones and Rogers out if the backside. Calvin we need you to step up.

prepdaa

August 9th, 2012
8:35 am

Was it just me. Curtis (50 cent) Lofton get abused the other night. It seem everything the cardinals did positive was directed at Lofton. He got caught up in the pile in the run game and late in the pass cm as well. Let’s go Dent. Samuel for Lofton is a plus for the durty birds.

SeenThis B4

August 9th, 2012
8:43 am

Yeah, it was just you prepdaa, CL played well last Sunday night. Dent, LOL!

A 4 wide set also exposes the QB to minimum protection, and Ryan is real slow in getting the ball out. Let’s see how well that works for a guy that sacked 26 times last year.

Another Rick

August 9th, 2012
8:54 am

Come on “seen” that goes without saying! Can DLed catch a break? You guys moan when he brings up the obvious ( that which you mentioned is the obvious) and when he puts another story line to watch you Aint fans moan about that! Geez! GO BACK TO YOUR HOME TEAM BLOG! You guys are just old news…..beat it!

Mike is Back

August 9th, 2012
9:04 am

Another Rick , well said…”seen” again GEEZ…nice 2 know u still love the BIRDS.lol

D man

August 9th, 2012
9:05 am

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?

Let’s go Falcons!!!

prepdaa

August 9th, 2012
9:11 am

Mr ain’t seen nothing. I rewind that 1st qt when the saints were on d over and over. He made a good play on the 1st run his way and the 1st pass his way. After that it was bad really bad. And like villma’s chance of a reduction and saints chance at making a serious run in the playoffs Gone!!!!!!

SeenThis B4

August 9th, 2012
9:12 am

“Bubble Players” aren’t exactly players that should be watched, their fates won’t be determined by preseason games, their fates are determined on the practice fields.

The players that should be watched are the marginally players (Baker, Peria, etc and the patchwork players like Dent and Samuels) and your draft choices.

What the falcan’t fans should be watching is the execution of the 1s, in particular on the schemes that falcan’t management said they would deploy: Screens, more vertical passing, more pressure on the QB, better defense of their own QB. Then, you grade them on that.

‘course, on the other hand, you could just stick your head in the sand and watch the bubble players…..

SeenThis B4

August 9th, 2012
9:15 am

@Mike: LOL! Yeah I love those birds, the RAVENS specifically! GEAUX RAVENS!!!!

S'paw_99

August 9th, 2012
9:27 am

Hey D-Led,

Any updates on Vance Walker, with Peters out for a while he had a good chance to start?

Nite Owl

August 9th, 2012
9:42 am

@Seen:

The problem is we won’t get to see much action out of the first stringers to really get a good gauge on the schemes. I do think the “mix-and-match” OL will get some more time than the rest of them, so I’ll be watching that. While peeking through my fingers and holding my breath.

As for Matt Ryan’s release, anyone’s release looks slow compared to Brees. Dan Marino, he is not. But I’ve seen him get the ball out pretty quick. The Bears game in the final minute a couple of years ago comes to mind immediately. (Not the Bears game last year. I’m going to pretend that never happened.)

Nite Owl

August 9th, 2012
9:45 am

And I don’t blame Dimitroff for trying to give his draft picks every opportunity to succeed. Sam Baker supposedly couldn’t feel his arm last year and was just hurt. If he’s healthy, he could still be a player.

Robert James playing 2nd string LB is also interesting. Can he play? What if there’s an injury and he has to start? These “bubble” players might be in the spotlight sooner rather than later, so it’s good to get a long look at them.

Another Rick

August 9th, 2012
10:00 am

No need to tell Coach Seen anything he knows everything like the great Sean Peyton….see where that got him! Tell us more coach we will all bow down to your great analytical blogs on anotger teams blog site……gosh to me that says you are more worried about my team instead of cheering for yours…..tragic cha cha!

Another Rick

August 9th, 2012
10:05 am

Tou grade the offense on one possession? That is just sad Seen. You grabbing for straws man and you just here to keep up stuff most of us would not want to hear! At most our offense will get one possession……..one! Yet you want to grade that? Wow…..keep educating us. Lol. Aint fan on the Falcon blog…..now thats original…..right? Come on we all know your style….a bunch of jargon that means nothing yet you still spew it. You really like hanging around the Rise Up Nation because you have nothing else to do! So surprised you get a kick out if being on the Falcon blog….man you are a sad Aint fan. No way I spend my time on a Aint blog! Sick and twisted….but then you are who you are.

Cejay

August 9th, 2012
10:09 am

Settle down Will……

SeenThis B4

August 9th, 2012
10:16 am

Nite Owl: You hit the nail on the head, I want to see how they execute the screen play. It’s not just a matter of putting it in, it’s a matter of execution. Saints 1s ran the screen on the first series, ran it to perfection in my opinion, but they are designed for that. Your receiver/back needs to be able to use his blockers… I don’t think the falcan’ts are going to be adept at it, but we’ll see. And if they are serious about it, then they’ll run it at least once or twice tonight in their first series. If they are successful, then they shouldn’t go three and out. And you are also right about the first team OL, if they can’t run block or pass block, you’re in for a long season. Oh and one more key thing to watch, see if your kick off specialist can kick it out of the endzone and preempt any run backs; he couldn’t do it last year, bet he can’t this year either.

Michael M.

August 9th, 2012
10:17 am

Saints are riddled with bubble players with the only exception to the rule is they have one of the very few quarterbacks that can make mediocre players look like superstars………………just think, if he was to go down the Saints would go down to the bottom of the division like a heavy rock being dropped.

Now the good thing on Atlanta is they have talented players that can get the job done and always have had the playmakers all over the field to put up stats with a quarterback that stays consistent though he is not a Breeze or Rodgers or Brady.

But the past several years they have been playing with their hands tied with the mularkey get a lead and ride on it philosphy and the SmittyBall routine. Now Mularkey is gone and Coach Smitty will leave the offense alone you can get the feel that a change has occured. Tonight we should see those changes or at least some of them anyway in the first quarter of action.

I like to see some of these young rookies do well and make a impression on the team because youth is something all great football teams seem to have. Hey Seen, don’t put that paper sack up because you are going to need it to hide under later on you Imbecile, oh that means you a little smarter than an idiot.

Another Rick

August 9th, 2012
10:25 am

Incredible Seen! You little man are a closet Falcon fan! This is not the first time me saying this! You know so much about my team! Come out and accept who you are. I would be a sucker to know so much about the Aints besides the scandel that happened. Rest of it I dont give a care. For you to lay out facts on my team says alot about who you are…….however the bandwagon is full, we accepted your move to Atlanta but we dont want you cheering for the RISE UP NATION!

Another Rick

August 9th, 2012
10:25 am

Why are my post being blocked Dled?

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution has five players to watch Thursday night in Atlanta's preseason game against [...]

Sleeze

August 9th, 2012
10:33 am

Seen This B4, I guess we could stick our heads in the sand, but the problem is that “Mrs. Seen This B4″ has already dropped a load there.

BK

August 9th, 2012
10:33 am

GO FALCONS, LETS SEE WHAT THESE PLAYERS ARE ALL ABOUT TONIGHT!!!

SeenThis B4

August 9th, 2012
10:34 am

@Michael M.: That would make me smarter than you.

At least you can take comfort in the warmth of knowing that your boy Ryan will be consistent in the playoffs.

Nite Owl

August 9th, 2012
10:36 am

I have faith in Bosher getting stronger, but yeah, that’s a concern when every other kicker in the league is getting touchbacks except yours. A lot of times, though, we would pin them inside the 20, so there was a silver lining there.

I think the OL will be much better than people think, but then again, I’m an optimist. I think we will need to play to our strengths in the passing game by getting the ball out quick and see if Julio can do his best impression of Jerry Rice. (Did you do a spit-take when I said that? Lol.)

And as for the screen game, I won’t panic if we botch it the first few times. Baby has to crawl before he can walk or run…

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution has five players to watch Thursday night in Atlanta‘s preseason game against [...]

Michael M.

August 9th, 2012
11:00 am

@ SeenthisB4…………………..I kind of figured it wouldn’t take you long to reload your guns with some more blanks as you always do and always with meaning you have your head stuck in your Arse again !

You know, I saw a piece where the Commissioner offered Vilma a deal for 8 and play 8 and I think he should take it and stop the whining……………….at least you would have em back on the team though doubtfully making much of an impact as he will be out of shape after missing training camp and most of the Season as well.

I can’t hardly stand the wait until the Falcons play your Bountygaters once again and see if that blowout last year was for real or just a fluke. If and I use it like you turds do , ” If ” , your bunch handles our guys like that again I will be the first one on here to bow down to the Aints and admit they are better than our Falcons. how is that for a deal from me ?

And oh yes………………I saw a post a few blogs back someone had posted about how long it took the mighty aints to make it to a playoff game and they was correct……20 plus years and you talk about history…………ha !

But back to the youth like James Rodgers….I don’t know exactly what the Falcons have in mind with him….to run back punts or kicks? but that little guy can flat out run and I hope he gets on the Roster when the Season gets under way……..big things come in small packages.

Dominique Davis in my opinion is a ton better QB than JPW and hopefully he takes his Job and in time moves in front of Redman as the number two.

Anybody think we will win the Preseason opener or is it a ” what can you do for me lately ” game ?

to real

August 9th, 2012
11:14 am

@ seen yall do have a nice screen game this a copy cat game we taking dat page out of ur book on another not I wanna see if this new o-line coach has dees guy ready we must be able to protect matt ryan if we are going to have a great pass attack on there is no game planing in pre season so im going off tha eye test on tha other side of tha ball I wanna see dent can he be dat side line to side line LB and I wanna see our new systems in action lets go falcons

Runner-

August 9th, 2012
11:43 am

D-Led!!!!!!! Keep up the great work man!!!

I’m so excited, this is truly our bet opening day roster in franhise history, which means only 1 thing: Super Bowl here we come!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
11:44 am

First time – At least!!! There’s something un-American about $8 beer.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
11:44 am

Seen — That’s too obvious. Everybody will watch that. The bottom of the roster is where the fights are.

SeenThis B4

August 9th, 2012
11:48 am

@Michael M.: I saw a piece where the NFL denied making an 8 for 8 deal with Vilma. I say let the court decide. As for the reality of last year’s blowout, how much more verification do you need, the Saints are 10 of the last 12, keep dreaming about your reality check. Even your own falcan’t fans get upset about how your team performs against any of the contenders….

@to real: Yeah, they have a nice screen game, but you won’t see Chris Ivory running a screen, cause he can’t, I don’t think Ingram can either. We have two backs that can run a screen, Sproles and Thomas. It’s not just running a screen, it’s executing it.

I want to see Dent and Weatherspoon perform too, or lack of performance is more like it!

Falcons 4 Real

August 9th, 2012
11:52 am

I’m also curious to see Bierman/El Cid/Massaquoi if they happen to implement the hybrid D at all tonight.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
11:54 am

Country boy – Akeem Dent is obvious. Everybody will be watching him. Here’s what’s on my obvious list for tonight: 1) Dent, 2) OLing rotation, 3) CB rotation and 4) backup QB battle.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
11:56 am

Another Rick – They are going to groan anyway. Let’s get ready for some football!!! Thanks for helping.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
11:58 am

S’paw_99 – Peters gets re-checked in another week. Walker, we think is an ankle, which the team is vaguely calling a foot. He could be back sooner than Peters.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
12:00 pm

Y’all pay Seen too much attention. He’s obviously a contrarian. You go left, he’s going right. Somebody has to work the other side of the street.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
12:02 pm

Another Rick — I’ll go check the spam folder. Don’t believe I’ve blocked you.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
12:05 pm

Runner- You must have just finish reading Mark Bradley’s column. Thanks for your kind words.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 9th, 2012
12:06 pm

I need to get a nap. I didn’t sleep much last night. Ready for the show to get on the road I guess!!!

Another Rick

August 9th, 2012
12:07 pm

You the man Dled! As for paying Seen to much attention, its like having that tag in your tshirt! Its so irritating but if you rip it out it leaves a hole. You just have to keep bending it and washing it with hopes it gets better!

Cejay

August 9th, 2012
12:08 pm

Contrarian ??? are you kidding me ??? he’s way more than that…

Michael M.

August 9th, 2012
12:15 pm

Seen……………….your piece is different or the latest from what I have read then…………….it wouldn’t matter now anyway.