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CORE 360, Issue 18 Find out more on MagCloud)

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Falcons, Backfield, Roll without Jackson

Falcons comeback falls short of Panthers 21-20.
Antone Smith's 76 yard romp off-tackle to the endzone wowed the crowd.

A hamstring injury to starting running back Stephen Jackson did not keep the supporting cast from lifting the Falcons to a 16-10 win over the Dolphins in NFL Pre-season action Friday night.

Rookie running back Devonta Freeman amassed over 100 yards of total offense in his pro debut and starter Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 20 yards including the Falcons first score of the game.

“I was impressed with Devonta Freeman, in terms of how he ran the ball for the most part,” said head coach Mike Smith while obviously holding back a smile. The rookie backs efforts to fight through frustration and impress in training camp had been displayed before the TV world on the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks.

Despite rushing for 50 yards on 10 carries and catching a 57 yard pass from Sean Renfree that set up a field goal, Freeman refused to take the self-celebratory bait and downplayed his accomplishments. "I felt like I did an ok job,” said Freeman. “But I have a lot of work to do with everything and every phase, pass block and runs.”

Starting running back Jacquizz Rodgers capped the Falcons lengthy scoring drive by powering through tacklers for a 2 yard touchdown.

The length of the drive wasn’t lost on Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. "I thought we could have done a little better,” said Philbin. “Atlanta had 15 plays, went 77 yards I thought we would have done a better job of getting off the field."

Getting reps under game speed conditions will allow the Dolphins coaching staff an opportunity to work on any deficiencies. “It’s great for the players to be out there without the coaches,” said Philbin. “ We can’t make the corrections like we can in practice while the play’s in session things happen to quick, so it’s invaluable.”

The Dolphins first team offense executed as well as their opponents taking the opening drive 69 yards on 10 plays. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed all six of his pass attempts including a 10 yarder to wide receiver Brandon Gibson for the game’s first touchdown.

In this preseason games, as with them all, the emphasis for the coaching staff was not on the score board rather the evaluation of players.

“We have a lot to things to work on as we go through this journey of the preseason, but I really liked the way the guys worked,” said Smith. “I'm looking forward to watching this tape, truly evaluating it, and getting on to the Houston Texans.”


The Falcons backup quarterbacks performed well against the Dolphins seconds, thirds, and fourths. TJ Yates finished with 127 yards on 7 of 16 passing. Sean Renfree finished just about the same completing 6 of 15 for 108 yards.

Rookie linebacker Prince Shembo gave the Falcons coaching staff something to jot down on their notepads. The fourth round pick out of Notre Dame produced the only sack of the game with a takedown of QB Seth Lobato for a nine-yard loss. “It was impressive to see his strength defeating the blocker and getting the quarterback on the ground,” said Smith.

Running back Antone Smith wowed the fans with a 76 yard jaunt off-tackle to the endzone. The score was nullified due to a holding penalty on top rookie draft pick Jake Matthews.

Dolphins rookie wide receiver Jarvis Landry was one tackler away from popping his first punt return for a touchdown. Punter Matt Bosher slowed the speedy receiver down and Jacquizz Rodgers came in seconds later to push the Dolphins 63rd pick from LSU out of bounds after a 48 yard return.

Tight end Brett Brackett caught three passes for 57 yards to lead all Dolphins receivers.

Porsha StewartReality TV show participant Porsha Stewart was spotted at the game sitting on the first row behind the Falcons bench. Could it be she was there evaluating talent as well?


Atlanta travels to Houston for an inter-squad scrimmage and preseason game with the Texans and the NFL’s number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. The Miami Dolphins will travel up the road a bit to face intra-state opponent Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Miami Dolphins 10 - Atlanta Falcons 16

Photos - Jake McDonald, CORE 360 Magazine
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