PFF's ReFocused series features immediate takeaways from the two analysts who graded the game live. The two offer a detailed breakdown of the game's most notable performances before the grades and advanced stats are reviewed and finalized by Senior Analysts.
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Defensive lineman Justin ZImmer had an effective night rushing the passer. He brought the quarterback down once for a sack and won on a few other pass-rush snaps. He also made a couple stops in run defense.
Second-year wide receiver Christian Blake, who led the team in receiving yards with 46, stood out in a Falcons offense that struggled overall. He moved the chains on two of his catches, which was more than other Atlanta pass-catchers could claim in the contest.
Malik Reed was the outstanding performer on the Denver's defense. He wreaked havoc on the Falcons' backups along the offensive line with great burst off the snap. Reed may be undersized for a traditional pass-rusher in the NFL, but his standout performance Thursday should lead to more reps in the preseason.
Elijah Wilkinson had a stong outing as a run blocker. He moved Jacob Tuioti-Mariner vertically on several occasions, giving Denver running backs more room to find holes even when other blocks weren't great. He also held his own in pass protection.
If Matt Ryan were to go down in the regular season, the Falcons would be in a world of hurt. NFL journeyman Matt Schaub completed just 4-of-14 passes for 10 yards and one interception in what was an ugly performance for the veteran.
Rookie cornerback Jordan Miller was beaten on a few throws, including an out route where Miller had given a large window. But a poorly thrown ball went right to Miller instead, who dropped an easy interception. He was also penalized twice in coverage and missed a couple tackles on the night.
Zach Kerr, a five-year NFL veteran with 1,568 defensive snaps played in his career, struggled against Atlanta on Thursday. He failed to have a positive impact rushing the passer and was a liability in run defense.
It wasn't the best start for second-round rookie Drew Lock. He overthrew a handful of deep passes, and he threw one out route so far behind the receiver that it went right to the defensive back but was bailed out by a dropped interception. In all, Lock did not complete a single pass targeted beyond the first down marker.
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