The bubble's about to burst for the Falcons, and it's going to leave quite a few players without jobs. This is the toughest part of the preseason, by far, but it does give us much-needed clarity to position battles that have raged throughout preseason.
This isn't a comprehensive list of players on the roster bubble, because the axe has to land on 20-plus of them before this is all said and done. This is a list of guys who are probably on the outside looking in after the final game of the preseason, though some have a shot at the practice squad.
Without further ado, let'sa go.
The rookie running back watched Antone Smith run for 20 yards on 6 carries, showing just enough as a runner in addition to his special teams prowess to make a case for a roster spot. He also watched Josh Vaughan explode for 83 yards on five carries, plus a touchdown.
Wingo? He got only two carries, and those went for 1 yard. While I like Wingo's talent and I think he's got a real shot at a practice squad spot. he's almost assuredly off the roster. The competition for fourth running back is down to Smith and Vaughan.
One of the most impressive rookies of the preseason for the Falcons, Johnson couldn't quite continue his sterling performance streak against Jacksonville. Given Kevin Cone's edges in experience, special teams value and blocking, that means he's firmly on the bubble.
It wouldn't stun me to see him make the final roster, but the practice squad seems likelier at this point.
I'm a huge PK Manley fan, so it pains me to put him here, but I saw a lot of this last night:
PK Manley struggling against whoever that big Jags DT is. Not showing any pop off the snap.— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) August 30, 2013
Harland Gunn has been impressive. Joe Hawley has been around a long time. Jacques McClendon has been coming on. The Falcons will need to cut a handful of offensive linemen to get down to 53, and Manley's struggles against Jacksonville and his all-around meh pass protection may wind up costing him a job.
Huynh is a big boy at defensive tackle, and in another year he might have gotten a chance. In 2013, with Travian Robertson (no lock himself) and Adam Replogle drawing a lot more snaps, he's all but certainly off the team. There's an outside chance he sticks on the PS.
Robert James was impressive and has significant special teams value. Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu have been blowing the doors off the Georgia Dome. Where does that leave Pat Schiller?
Probably off the roster, unfortunately. Schiller's a good guy and a solid tackler, but I'd be amazed to see the Falcons carry more than six dedicated linebackers. He'll be duking it out with Brian Banks for a practice squad spot, more than likely.
Dominique Franks continues to look at least decent, whereas Thompson has never shown well in preseason. Despite being a gifted athlete, Thompson has seen his snaps decrease throughout the preseason and seems ticketed for release.
Schillinger has never had an issue with tackling. It's just that outside of special teams, he's struggled to make an impact.
The Falcons could burn their seventh-rounders this year if Schillinger and Charles Mitchell were simply better, but it's tough to argue that Zeke Motta and Kemal Ishmael haven't shown flashes. If one of Mitchell and Schill are going, it's probably Schillinger, because Mitchell has considerably more upside.
Who's on your bubble, and who survives?