ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 01: Brandyn Harvey #17 of the Atlanta Falcons fails to pull in this reception against Talmadge Jackson #41 of the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on September 1, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
There's some surprisingly familiar names on this initial list of cuts, which includes a total of 17 players. They include Chauncey Davis, a longtime reserve at defensive end who had a cap figure in excess of $3 million, and Coy Wire, the special teamer extraordinaire who re-upped with the team earlier this year.
By making those two cuts, the Falcons showed a willingness to populate some key defensive reserve spots with young guys. There will be another 10 or so cuts forthcoming, but guys like Spencer Adkins and Akeem Dent are vying for Wire's old role now, and Davis is likely to be replaced by Cliff Matthews, Lawrence Sidbury or both. In the case of Trey Lewis, who was released alongside Kiante Tripp, the Falcons are showing they're comfortable with Corey Peters' health.
The rest of these names are mostly younger players and UDFA types who still have a shot at a practice squad spot, but weren't making the final roster. There's some talent there, but no name beyond the trio of Davis, Wire and Lewis is a shocking one.
This is news that deserves to be debated as well as dissected, so I open the floor to the lot of you. I'll have more in-depth thoughts later on, but after the jump, find the full list with brief comments. I wish all these guys well.
DE Chauncey Davis: A valuable reserve for a long time, Davis was solid against the run but not much of a factor as a pass rusher. The team will roll with younger guys with higher ceilings now, not to mention the fantastic three-man rotation of John Abraham, Ray Edwards and Kroy Biermann.
LB Coy Wire: A valuable special teams contributor, Wire was undone by lack of top-flight skills as a linebacker. Akeem Dent is the presumptive choice to take his spot.
DT Trey Lewis: A surprise, considering that Lewis just had a sack last night. The team has terrific depth with Corey Peters, Jon Babineaux, Peria Jerry and Vance Walker, and they seem to like Carlton Powell.
TE Marquez Branson: Still a practice squad candidate, Branson has terrific physical skills but remains raw.
FB Lucas Cox: A punishing blocker with some pass-catching ability, Cox is also a practice squad candidate. The Falcons won’t carry two fullbacks and he could never have beat out Ovie Mughelli.
OG Paul Fenaroli: A project with some upside at center and guard, Fenaroli is raw but talented. Again, a practice squad candidate.
LB Matt Hansen: Touted coming into camp but ultimately could not distinguish himself on a crowded depth chart.
WR Brandyn Harvey: Another practice squad candidate, Harvey is tall and fast but struggled to find separation after a nice start to pre-season.
RB Gartrell Johnson: Failed to distinguish himself in pre-season and watched Antone Smith explode last night.
DE Tom McCarthy: Did little in very limited opportunities. The depth chart at defensive end is too deep.
CB Kamaal McIlwain: Impressed in practice and had a nice pick last night. May latch on the practice squad.
DT Kiante Tripp: Once again, a victim of the numbers game. Some talent there, so he could be a candidate for the practice squad.
S Suaesi Tuimaunei: Had little chance to make his case and couldn’t capitalize when he did.
LB Bear Woods: Hard-nosed linebacker with good football intelligence who did some nice things this pre-season. Probably a practice squad candidate.
WR Andy Strickland: Had some moments in practice and in pre-season, but was injured last night and is being waived based on that.