Atlanta Falcons: 4 Players Who Must Improve in Game Three

Atlanta Falcons, Justin Hardy #14 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Justin Hardy #14 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Matt Gono (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Matt Gono • Offensive Tackle

Matt Gono was an undrafted free agent in 2018, who impressed the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff enough to stay around. However with the newly acquired offensive line depth, there is no guarantee that Gono will have a spot this season.

Matt was solid as a pass blocker in the game, starting in place of Pro Bowl tackle Jake Matthews. He did not allow a single pressure in 23 pass blocking snaps. in fact he has only allowed one pressure all preseason.

Gono did not fare as well in the run game. He was graded a poor 59.9 in his attempts to be a road grader. Most concerning is Gono was whistled for three penalties in the game. Penalties are often drive killers.

Penalties are something that has plagued the Atlanta Falcons in the past and can not be tolerated this season. If Matt Gono continues to draw red flags, he could soon draw a pink slip from the infamous turk.

Justin Hardy • Wide Receiver

Many fans including myself were shocked when Justin Hardy was resigned by the Atlanta Falcons to a one year deal. By all accounts Hardy is a hard worker and a great teammate. Unfortunately he just doesn’t produce on the field.

In four season as a pro, Justin Hardy has caught just 76 passes for 750 yards. He also failed as a return man last season, averaging just 7.4 yards per punt return and 3.5 yards per kick return. He is the prince of the fair catch on punt returns, with former Falcon Eric Weems being the king.

Hardy has also been unimpressive so far this preseason. Hardy has just two catches for nine yards in 21 snaps. He has been out played by young players such as Russell Gage, Kahlil Lewis, Olamide Zaccheaus and even Christian Blake.

The best thing that Justin Hardy brings to the table is run blocking. He also blocks well on wide receiver screens. Though blocking is certainly a valuable skill, with young players at the position playing much better, it may not be enough to save Hardy from being a victim of roster cuts this year.

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The Atlanta Falcons we bitten badly by the injury bug last season. The chances of it happening for a second consecutive season are slim. In fact I am going to speak positively and say that it will not happen again.

At the same time you never know when multiple injuries will happen within the same position group. It is paramount that the Atlanta Falcons build quality depth in every area possible. For the players fighting for a roster spot, these next three games will prove to be extremely important.

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