Of all the dilemmas facing Atlanta sports fans in the past, I can’t imagine anything equals this one: What should command more attention — Chipper Jones Bobblehead Night at Turner Field or a meeting of the NFL’s two great young receivers, Julio Jones and A.J. Green, at the Georgia Dome?
Let’s break this down:
• Bobbleheads: OK, it would be a cool memory from Jones’ final season, at least until your kid knocks it off the desk and breaks it. But after the giveaway, it’s really only a game against the Padres. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’ll score it an 8.5.
• Falcons’ Julio Jones vs. Cincinnati’s A.J. Green: Tonight’s game is a mere NFL exhibition. The real impact is zero (barring injuries). The entertainment value drops off when the starters leave (which tonight will be early second quarter). But Jones was dazzling last week against Baltimore: 6 receptions, 109 yards, a touchdown. Green, the former Georgia star, is coming off a season in which he had 65 catches for 1,057 yards and became the first rookie receiver to make the Pro Bowl since 2003. Score: 7.
I’m at the Dome. I figured it would be easier to write a column off a game than a bobblehead.
There’s actually a few things I’m looking forward to watching tonight (besides Jones and Green):
• 1) The Falcons’ defense: This could the topic of tonight’s column. The backups collapsed last week against Baltimore (31-17 loss after a 17-7 lead). Yes, these are only practice games, nobody schemes opponents and statistics don’t matter. That said, it’s not easy to make Curtis Painter (three second-half touchdown passes) look like Y.A. Tittle. Starters are expected to play longer tonight than in the Baltimore game.
• 2) The backup quarterbacks: It was a little surprised the Falcons didn’t bring in somebody new to compete for the backup job with Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson. There’s a good chance Dominique Davis will stick as the No. 3 on the practice squad, unless somebody else pops free when teams start making roster cuts.
• 3) Kickoff and punt returns: Actually, I’m not really going to watch that closely. I just wanted an excuse to stir the pot and ask: Why don’t the Falcons go after Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps? The former Florida receiver is expected to sign with an NFL team soon and could be a dynamic addition on special teams (and as a fourth receiver). But I don’t expect it to happen.
OK, that’s it for now. I’ll take any of your questions on the game and bobbleheads. The cyber-venting lines are open.
By Jeff Schultz