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Osi Umenyiora Hits The Bench

The veteran defensive end is seeing his role reduced along with Asante Samuel as the season winds down.

Kevin C. Cox

The Falcons are finally in full-blown evaluation mode. Last week we covered what that meant for Asante Samuel, who is basically riding the bench for the rest of the season. Yesterday, we got a look at what it means for Osi Umenyiora.

Sort of. As it turns out, Jonathan Babineaux started the game at RDE opposite Jonathan Massaquoi. This is a damning indictment of what the Falcons think of Osi's production this year. I argued earlier today that he hasn't been nearly as bad as many would have you believe, something I stand by. Yet it's also clear that the coaching staff isn't seeing the consistent production they'd like, and that's why he was relegated to 28 snaps out of a possible 71 yesterday, coming up with a sack and a forced fumble.

Now, Osi did cede some of these snaps to young players, but the fact that he was losing some to Babs outside is a troubling sign for his future with the Falcons. Atlanta wasn't shy about purging "unproductive" veterans last year—whether that tag fit or not—and if they think Osi's only a part-time player with a hefty price tag next year, he could be out. Ditto Samuel, as we've already discussed. Jonathan Massaquoi and Malliciah Goodman seem likely to carve out significant roles next year, and they're already getting their snaps this year.

Thoughts about Osi?