Bengals vs Falcons: Julio Jones and Players to Watch During Thursday's Matchup

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IAugust 16, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons runs for yards after the catch against the New York Giants during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

During the NFL preseason, no one cares about the results; they just care about the process. 

The same will hold true when the Atlanta Falcons take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.

No one cares that Atlanta is 0-1 or that Cincy is 1-0. No one cares what the score will be when the night is over.

What we are concerned with, however, is the players—the rookies, the guys coming off injuries, the young studs, anyone who compels us. 

With that being said, let's take a look at the most intriguing players to watch as this week's preseason action gets started. 


Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Guys who are already established as stars in the NFL don't usually make "who to watch" lists during preseason games, but not even limited action can slow down Jones.

Despite playing just the first quarter against Baltimore last week, the second-year stud pulled down six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.

Normal human beings don't do that in the preseason. 

It's a good thing, then, that Jones isn't a normal human being. 

He's big, he's fast and he's strong, so, despite the fact that he will once again see limited action, don't be surprised if he puts on another show. 

The 23-year-old is too exciting not to watch, no matter the venue. 

Oh yeah, and on the other side of the field there will be another decent second-year wideout in A.J. Green. Don't keep your eyes off him, either, as he will likely attempt to outshine his former SEC mate. 


Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati Bengals

Remember when Burfict was a projected first-round pick? 

Yeah, me neither, but according to the internet, he was. After a bunch of character concerns and the inability to run 40 yards in under five seconds, the menacing linebacker from Arizona State went undrafted.

Marvin Lewis and the Bengals were willing to give him a chance, though, and the early returns have been good. 

Not only did he go out and pick off Tim Tebow during Cincy's first preseason contest, but he has already been logging time with the first-team defense. This kid has the tools to be a dominant NFL linebacker; he just needs to get his head right.


Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons

One of the guys Burfict will likely have to track down is his former Pac-12 opponent, Jacquizz Rodgers.

The little 5'6" stick of dynamite out of Oregon State showed flashes of brilliance last season as a rookie, but with Michael Turner in town, he didn't get many opportunities. 

Good thing for us, the preseason gives Rodgers a chance to showcase his unique skill set. 

Although he is absolutely lightning quick, Rodgers hasn't really broken off any huge plays in Atlanta. But rest assured that he, without a doubt, has the ability to take it to the house every time he touches the ball.

Rodgers got 10 touches (nine carries, one reception) in his first preseason game, so don't be surprised if he once again gets plenty of playing time on Thursday night.

Rodgers can be a blur, so it'll be tough, but you won't want to miss him. 



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