According to Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network, the Atlanta Falcons are still mulling if they will play their starters during Thursday night’s contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wolfe noted the Falcons seemed noncommittal on either side of the equation after their starters played one drive in their last game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Talking with reporters on Sunday, head coach Arthur Smith did not yet know the exact breakdown of who would play and how much. While he noted he had a rough idea of how the Falcons would go about it, there still were questions to answer over the next two days of practice.
“I think we have a decent idea,” Smith said. “I just really want to see how the next two days go. We’ll finalize that on Tuesday night. A lot of what we feel like we need to work on for certain guys that we know will be here to get ready to go Week 1. You also have the opportunity to make some tough decisions so you’re kind of weighing all that. I’ve got a pretty good idea, but we need to see how these next two days go, too.”
Obviously, Tuesday night has now passed. According to Wolfe, no decision on the starters is yet made for the Falcons against the Steelers. Pittsburgh intends to play their starters with a clear agenda, but it is unclear how much they will play and who could potentially sit out of the group.
“From what I’m told, there’s no decision yet on if the starters will play,” Wolfe said. “I think you’ll some of those older veterans sit. But I am hopeful you’ll see some of those younger players that make those players so intriguing.”
Last season, the Steelers starters played about a half in the third and final preseason game. Tomlin said that when the NFL changed from four to three preseason games, he didn’t change his approach for the first three, which should portend increasing reps for the starters over the first three games. Historically, the Steelers’ starters did not play at all in the fourth preseason game, which was cut by the NFL in 2021. The Steelers’ first time playing three preseason games was in 2022 because they played in the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.