ATLANTA (AP) — Terron Ward ran for two touchdowns, possibly clinching his roster spot, and the Atlanta Falcons beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-15 on Thursday night in each team’s final preseason game.
Ward missed the last two games with an ankle sprain but returned just in time to show he can be the team’s third running back, behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. He ran for 62 yards on 22 carries.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan handed off to Freeman on Atlanta’s first play. Both jogged off the field after Freeman’s 3-yard gain, ending possibly the shortest stints of their careers.
A few Falcons starters had only slightly more playing time.
Jacksonville held out 28 players, including all starters except kicking specialists.
Each team featured its third-string quarterback. Brandon Allen completed 17 of 26 passes for 164 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for Jacksonville. Matt Schaub, who played behind Ryan, completed his only attempt for 5 yards for Atlanta before Matt Simms played the remainder of the game. Simms completed 16 of 23 passes for 217 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Falcons finished the preseason with a 3-1. The Jaguars were 1-3.
Jaguars: Former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, competing with Josh Johnson for a spot as a Jaguars backup cornerback, intercepted a pass off the hands of Falcons rookie tight end Austin Hooper. Johnson also had an interception, but fumbled a kickoff return in the closing seconds of the first half.
Falcons: It was a tough night for Hooper, the third-round pick from Stanford who had another pass off his hands intercepted by Johnson in the first quarter. Hooper also drew a penalty as an ineligible man downfield on a punt. Hooper, the top backup to starter Jacob Tamme, is one of five tight ends on the roster. He could fall behind D.J. Tialavea on the depth chart. The other tight ends are Levine Toilolo and Joshua Perkins.
Jaguars: DT Michael Bennett left with a calf injury and did not return. RB Denard Robinson was cleared to return after being hit in an eye.
Falcons: FB Will Ratelle, re-signed on Wednesday, needed help leaving the field with an ankle injury following his 15-yard catch in the second quarter. … S Robenson Therezie (hand) DT Joey Mbu (hand) were listed as questionable after leaving in the third quarter.