The Atlanta Falcons wrapped up their final preparations for their preseason opener on Thursday, and now it’s off to Detroit for a showdown against the Lions.
After two weeks of practice, some players have elevated their game while others appear to be falling behind. Here’s a look at two players whose stock has risen, and two who have some more work to do.
Stock up: S Richie Grant
(AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
People had every reason to be concerned about the projection of Richie Grant’s career after he struggled to get on the field during his rookie season. The second-year safety from UCF has taken a noticeable step forward in training camp thus far.
Outside of Jaylinn Hawkins, it was unclear who would emerge as the other starting safety. Early on, it looked like it would be veteran Erik Harris, who re-signed with the team this offseason. However, Grant appears to have surpassed Harris on the depth chart.
Stock down: OL Jalen Mayfield
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The 2021 season was one that second-year lineman Jalen Mayfield would like to forget. Forced into a starting job which he probably wasn’t ready for, Mayfield graded out as one of the worst starting linemen in the entire league last year. Coming into training camp, Mayfield needed to prove himself as much as anyone on the roster, and that just hasn’t happened.
A lower back injury kept him out of practice for a few days last week, but Elijah Wilkinson has gotten the starting reps at left guard. Below, Mayfield can be seen getting blown up by fringe defensive lineman Derrick Tangelo, per ESPN’s Michael Rothstein.
The best drill of training camp — one on one OL vs DL at the Falcons. pic.twitter.com/bvmmxO3jbi
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) August 2, 2022
Stock up: OT Elijah Wilkinson
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Wilkinson’s stock has risen a bit during training camp as he is now the presumptive starter at left guard. Is this due to Mayfield’s injury/poor performance, or is Wilkinson legitimately on track to start? Friday’s preseason matchup should give us some answers as the starters are set to play a quarter.
Initially, Wilkinson was believed to be more of a depth signing as a guy who can back up multiple positions. For now, though, the starting job is Wilkinson’s to lose.
Stock down: QB Desmond Ridder
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Coming into camp, there was very little Ridder could do to get a leg up on starter Marcus Mariota. While the QB spot was believed to be an open competition, it hasn’t been that close through the first two weeks. Per The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz, Ridder is “way behind” Mariota.
Some thoughts on Desmond Ridder after watching practice the last few days: He's way behind Mariota. It's actually not even close. This shouldn't be taken as a career projection but Ridder's accuracy just isn't there right now. Several overthrows, some underthrows.
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) August 10, 2022
There’s still plenty of time for Ridder to prove himself, though, and he can start by playing well in Friday’s preseason opener in Detroit