Falcons WR Julio Jones vs. Saints CB Keenan Lewis: Jones will have to carry the passing attack early for the offense, with Roddy White not expected to be fully recovered from his ankle injury. Jones has had a great offseason. He’s bulked up to 229 pounds and appears faster. The Saints wanted some bigger corners to help against receivers such as Jones. Lewis, 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, formerly played with the Steelers.
Falcons RT Lamar Holmes vs. Saints OLB Junior Gallette: Holmes, who had a bumpy ride during the exhibition season, is basically a rookie. He played seven snaps last season after a slow recovery from stress-fracture surgery in his foot. He’ll receive some help in pass protection from a back or a tight end. Galette (6-2, 258) spent his final college season at Stillman after being dismissed from Temple for an undisclosed team violation. He is making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Falcons LB Joplo Bartu vs. Saints TE Jimmy Graham: With Stephen Nicholas, the team’s leading tackler in 2012, slowed by a quadriceps injury, Bartu (6-2, 230), an undrafted rookie free agent from Texas State, is expected to get plenty of action. He’s a smaller and faster linebacker who the Falcons believe is part of the answer to covering tight ends. He shined when used in the dime package during the exhibition season. Graham, who’s healthy after playing through a painful wrist injury last season, caught seven passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns when the Saints ended the Falcons’ 8-0 start last season.