NEW ORLEANS — Here are 5 things to mull over before tonight’s 8:30 p.m. kickoff between the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) and the New Orleans Saints (0-2) at the Superdome.
1. WILL THE FALCONS GO NO-HUDDLE: The Falcons, according to the official gamebook, ran 25 no-huddle plays in their 35-28 win over the Oakland Raiders and amassed 528 yards last week. The Falcons plan to use the no-huddle on a case-by-case basis, even though magical things happen when quarterback Matt Ryan runs the no-huddle. “There are really no absolutes in football,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Friday. “It has to do with what you’re going against and situations. You’ve got to be able to adjust to anything.”
2. JONES TO PLAY. Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones returned to practice from his calf injury and pronounced himself ready to play against the Saints on Monday Night after Saturday’s practice.
3. NEAL TO PLAY. Rookie strong safety Keanu Neal was drafted to add a physical presence to the defense and help cover running backs and tight ends. Neal, who suffered a right knee injury in the third exhibition game against Miami on Aug. 25, returned to practice after knee surgery and will make his NFL debut against the Saints.
4. THE MORELLI CREW: The game will be called by the Pete Morelli crew. R: Pete Morelli (135) ; FJ: Doug Rosenbaum (67), U: Bryan Neale (92), SJ: Boris Cheek (41), HL: Steve Stelljes (22), BJ: Greg Steed (12), LJ: Carl Johnson (101), RO: Tommy Moore. Morelli is working with an entirely new crew after his folks had a disastrous 2015 season.
5. SERIES RECORD: This will be the 94th regular-season meeting. The Falcons lead series 48-45. The Saints have won four of the past five meetings in the Superdome, including last season’s 31-21 victory on a Thursday night game. This has become a lopsided series. New Orleans has won the last two meetings, eight of the last 11 and 15 of 20 since 2006, starting with that game 10 years ago.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Noah Coslov preview Falcons-Saints on Monday Night Football by getting into the Falcons offensive rhythm and how to fix the defense.
THE ATLANTA FALCONS DEPTH CHART
WR 11 Julio Jones, 16 Justin Hardy, 14 Eric Weems
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Tom Compton
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 68 Mike Person
C 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland
RG 65 Chris Chester, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 76 Tom Compton
TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Levine Toilolo, 82 Joshua Perkins
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 19 Aldrick Robinson, 18 Taylor Gabriel
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco
DE 50 Brooks Reed, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 93 Dwight Freeney
DT 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 90 Derrick Shelby
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 91 Courtney Upshaw
DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman
LB 44 Vic Beasley, Jr. 54 O’Brien Schofield
LB 45 Deion Jones, 41 Philip Wheeler, 53 LaRoy Reynolds, 55 Paul Worrilow,
LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 56 Sean Weatherspoon
CB 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 34 Brian Poole
S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie
S 36 Kemal Ishmael, 38 Dashon Goldson, 22 Keanu Neal
K 3 Matt Bryant
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 26 Tevin Coleman, 14 Eric Weems
PR 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher
GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28
GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24