The Falcons are set to open the regular season against Tampa Bay at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Here are five things to know about the Falcons on Wednesday:
1. Practice. The Falcons return to practice today and will put in the bulk of the game-plan for Tampa Bay. Practice is set for 1:45 p.m and quarterback Matt Ryan will speak to the media.
2. Practice squad shuffle. Defensive tackle Joe Vellano was signed to the practice squad on Tuesday. In order to make room for Vellano, the Falcons released defensive tackle Joey Mbu. The Falcons practice squad is full with 10 members. The other practice squad members are wide receiver Nick Williams, running back Gus Johnson, cornerback Deji Olatoye, wide receiver J.D. McKissic, defensive end Nordly Capi, cornerback Devonte Johnson, safety Sharrod Neasman, quarterback Matt Simms and tight end D.J. Tialavea. Vellano, who’s 6 foot-2 and 300 pounds, played at Maryland. He’s spent time with New England and Indianapolis.
3. Parms to Buffalo. Safety Damian Parms, who was in camp with the Falcons, was signed to Buffalo’s practice squad.
4. Bucs lead series. All-time regular season results: Bucs lead, 23-22. Current Regular Season Streak: Bucs, last two.
5. 3 key matchups. Here are three key matchups for the game:
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy vs. Falcons C Alex Mack: McCoy has been a disruptive force in the league. He plays the run well and has 35.5 career sacks. Mack, a former All-Pro, was signed to help solidify the interior of the offensive line. He will help Chris Chester with McCoy in what should be a major battle.
Bucs RB Doug Martin. vs. Falcons MLB Deion Jones: Martin rushed for 1,402 yards and helped to power the offense last season. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns. Jones will be making his NFL debut as a smallish/fast middle linebacker. Jones is s solid tackler and plays with a mean streak.
Bucs WR Vincent Jackson vs. Falcons CB Robert Alford: Jackson, who caught just 33 passes last season, will have a height advantage over Alford as the Falcons will likely match cornerback Desmond Trufant on Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans. Alford is speedy and quick.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Noah Coslov preview Falcons-Bucs by talking about the Mike Smith difference, the biggest source of stress for Dan Quinn and the Falcons’ defensive game plan.