WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–The Falcons defense makes opponents earn it. A year ago, the Falcons allowed 49 plays of 20 yards or longer, the fifth-fewest in the league. Only six of those were runs, tied for the second-least. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett could be a key; a year ago he ranked fourth in run defense grade, according the Pro Football Focus.

–Tevin Coleman could be a big factor for the Falcons. With much of the Philadelphia focus expected to be around denying opportunities for Devonta Freeman, it could be a night to watch Coleman. In two previous games against the Eagles, Coleman totaled 30 rushes for 159 yards. Eight of those carries resulted in first downs.

–Tight end Austin Hooper will be a key in the opener. The third-year player has seen his star rise and has become a reliable option for Matt Ryan. If the Eagles can put the heat on Ryan and make him get rid of the ball quickly, Hooper is the guy to watch. Last year he was targeted 62 times and caught 49 for 526 yards.

–Head coach Dan Quinn about the team’s defense: “I do like the speed our defense is starting to play with. Some of that comes from talent, some of that comes from anticipation, seeing playing (time) and knowing now that you’ve been in the system for a few years and you have some of that experience.”

–Quinn, when asked about the difference preparing for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles vs. Carson Wentz: “Both quarterbacks may have some different styles and we’ll look at that and have, but as far as training for the offense, that’s the main thing.”

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced Monday that Foles will start against the Falcons.

TEAM MVP

–Quarterback Matt Ryan: Another year in the new offense and a new weapon at his disposal mean good things for Ryan. He has a streak of seven consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons and continues to embellish his reputation for late-game success. Last year he had nine fourth-quarter touchdowns, second-best in the league.
TEAM ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

–Wide receiver Calvin Ridley: Although the team had other glaring needs, it chose to use its first-round pick on Ridley. The Alabama product looked good in the preseason. He showed the ability to catch the ball in traffic and make big plays. He will get plenty of targets. Ridley may also get a chance to return kickoffs. Ridley brings a great attitude and has spent time learning from Julio Jones, his fellow Crimson Tide alum.