Atlanta Falcons schedule: Why these two players make the Buccaneers better

Atlanta Falcons schedule: Why these two players make the Buccaneers better: Over the last two weeks I’ve taken a closer look at the Falcons’ 2017 opponents – what they did during free agency, the NFL Draft, how all of the moves might affect these regular-season matchups – and it wraps up today with the Buccaneers.

Yes, it’s still only June and so much will happen between now and when the Falcons square off against these teams on the field. But is it ever really too soon to start talking Falcons football and speculate about the much-anticipated 2017 season? Didn’t think so. Click on the links below to read the previous reports.

Atlanta Falcons schedule: Why these two players make the Buccaneers better

Atlanta Falcons

And in case you were wondering, the Falcons kick off training camp in late July and their first preseason game is Aug. 10 in Miami against the Dolphins. The regular season begins Sept. 10 against the Bears in Chicago. The Atlanta Falcons have four days of Organized Team Activities scheduled for this week. All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones won’t be allowed to participate in any of them.

Jones sat out the opening three days of OTAs last week, and he’ll be sidelined for the Falcons’ mandatory minicamp June 13-15. The former Alabama standout had surgery on March 6 to remove a bunion on his left foot. Jones is expected to be ready when the Falcons open training camp late next month.

Let’s not harp on the blown Super Bowl lead, and instead remember that the Falcons were an exceptionally good football team in 2016, especially on offense. Atlanta scored 540 points in the regular season—seventh most in league history—as Matt Ryan found his stride, and Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman emerged as the NFL’s fiercest running back tandem. The good news: Atlanta brings back almost nearly every major player from that offense. (While fullback Patrick DiMarco, who signed a four-year, $8.5 million deal in Buffalo, was popular among fans, the truth is he only played in 31 percent of Atlanta’s snaps last season.) This offseason, it’s clear GM Thomas Dimitroff didn’t want to tinker too much with a good thing; he even re-upped backup QB Matt Schaub for two more years. An extension for Freeman, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, could be on the way.

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