The Falcons' rookie class was, once again, either ineffective or little-utilized this week against the Ravens. We knew the bulk of this class was going to have a bigger impact in 2015, but it still isn't fun to watch Jake Matthews flailing and Dezmen Southward, Ra'Shede Hageman and Prince Shembo largely sitting.
On to the report.
LT Jake Matthews, 66 snaps
Jake's Pro Football Focus grade for the week was -9.0. Jake's play on the field was undeniably shaky, at best. Elvis Dumervil repeatedly beat him off the edge and the pass rush got home on his side more than any other, which is really unfortunate.
I think it's fair to wonder if the team wouldn't be better served throwing Ryan Schraeder in at left tackle for one week, giving Matthews two weeks to rest up with the bye approaching and working with him to correct issues unrelated to the ankle injury. Right now, I don't think Matthews at left tackle is giving this team its best chance to win, regardless of how high I am on Matthews' long-term potential.
DE Ra'Shede Hageman, 18 snaps
Hageman played just a tick over a quarter of the snaps and was basically fine, coming up with one stop and otherwise having a fairly quiet game. Considering he looked lousy in his limited snaps earlier in the season, it's progress, but he's not playing quite enough for a grade again.
FS Dezmen Southward, 9 snaps
Southward continues to be a big help and a capable tackler on special teams, and when he's in the game he's actually been decent in coverage. Until he gets more snaps on defense, however, we aren't going to know what he's fully capable of.
RB Devonta Freeman, 16 snaps
Freeman is being utilized more as a pass catching back out of the backfield, and he actually out-snapped Jacquizz Rogers on Sunday. It's still not enough snaps and touches for him to really make an impact on the game, but it looks like we're heading slowly but inexorably toward that.
ILB Prince Shembo, 1 snap
Your guess is as good as mine with Shembo. He has been dealing with a lingering injury, but he played just one defensive snap and zero special teams snaps against the Ravens, leading me to wonder why the team didn't just declare him inactive and carry someone else on the roster. There could be something more than the injury going on here, but the Falcons are as tight-lipped as they come and aren't offering anything.
Hopefully we see Shembo back to starting in the middle this weekend.
OLB Tyler Starr, Inactive
"I fear I may go mad," Starr said to the cherry Gatorade, his eyes cast down on a writhing mass of worms that may or may not have actually been on the turf of M&T Bank Stadium. "How can a man be inactive? How can a man sit on this hard pine bench, week after week, and still exist? If there are no snaps to be had, do I yet live?"
The cherry Gatorade was silent.