Falcons will see what's on the line against Dolphins

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons right tackle Ryan Schraeder would rather forget what happened the last time he faced the Miami Dolphins.

In the third preseason game of 2015, Schraeder and the Falcons' offensive line looked like boys vs. men against the Dolphins' defensive line of Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, Olivier Vernon, and Earl Mitchell. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked three times and hit another three times in 17 snaps.

"We didn't really show up that day," Schraeder said. "We had some rough series."

The pitiful showing led to at least one significant immediate change as the Falcons acquired veteran left guard Andy Levitre in a trade with the Tennessee Titans to replace then-starter James Stone.

"We definitely didn't really know who we were at that point last year," right guard Chris Chester said. "It wasn't a pretty game for us."

Come Thursday night in Orlando, Florida, the Falcons again will face the Dolphins in the third and most meaningful game of the preseason -- typically a "dress rehearsal" for the starters in preparation for the regular season. The offensive line will have a similar challenge, although Wake's status is a game-time decision coming off an Achilles injury. Even without him, the Dolphins still have Suh and former first-overall pick Mario Williams, who replaced the departed Vernon as one of the edge rushers. (Mitchell was held out of last week's game against the Cowboys.)

"I think they have a really, really good front seven, so it's going to be a big challenge for us," left tackle Jake Matthews said. "We keep stressing if we do the things we know we can do and focus on the stuff that works and the right way to do it, we think we can have success against anyone in the league."

Of course, the Falcons underwent an extreme makeover themselves, adding three-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack to replace a shaky Mike Person. It will be interesting to see how Mack and Chester fare against Suh. It will also be intriguing if rookie guard Wes Schweitzer gets a chance against Suh.

"One of the best in the league," Chester said of Suh. "A big, quick, physical guy. Always a challenge to play against him."

The Falcons feel good about themselves after dominating the line of scrimmage in last Thursday's 24-13 victory over the Browns. To keep those good feelings going, they'll have to have a strong showing this Thursday. Ryan has yet to be sacked in 27 preseason snaps. And the running game was on point last week, including a 19-yard touchdown run by Devonta Freeman.

None of that will matter if the Falcons come out and get run over, as they did last preseason.

"That was last year; this is this year," Matthews said. "This year, we're coming off a good game of rushing in the second preseason game. We want to carry that over and keep it going."