Two weeks into the preseason, we have a decent idea of what this team might look like. We also know that with post-Week 3 roster cuts looming, there are several players who are going to be on the outside looking in, and we even have a rough idea of who some of those players are.
It's tough for me to give up on players like Dezmen Southward, a third round pick just a season ago, or Cliff Matthews, who has been a small but important part of Falcons teams for years now. Yet in the interest of knocking down to 75 and then 53 men on the roster, the team has to make tough cuts like that, and we don't want to be caught off-guard because we refused to consider the possibilities.
Yesterday, the Falcons parted ways with Marquis Spruill, who would have otherwise made this list. Expect more mild surprises like that in this week's round of cuts, but we'll go over our first 15 cuts prediction tomorrow.
Here's five players who are on shaky ground.
- Dezmen Southward. I said Southward was doomed in Saturday's recap of the game, and after mulling his status over for another 24 hours, I feel the same way. He has the size and athleticism to be a nice fit for Dan Quinn's defense at cornerback, but the coverage instincts simply haven't been there. With Kevin White pushing hard for a roster spot, Southward needs to show the team something just to hang on for another year and develop. The Falcons had to know he wasn't necessarily going to take to cornerback in the NFL immediately, which is about the best thing you can say for his chances.
- Tyler Polumbus. He has the Kyle Shanahan connection, but Polumbus has shown nothing in training camp or preseason action thus far to prove he belongs. Seventh round rookie tackle Jake Rodgers has absolutely outplayed him to this point, and given that Rodgers was thought by most to be a project coming out of college, that's damning. He'll need a Shanahan intervention or a surprisingly strong showing against the Dolphins to make the team, and if Lamar Holmes can return shortly and show the coaching staff anything, that may not even be enough.
- Peter Konz. The harsh words from Vaughn McClure were sadly apropos. It's difficult to tell what Konz offers to this team at this stage, given that he's clearly behind James Stone, Chris Chester, Jon Asamoah, and Mike Person for a role. Add in his inability to get on the field and push for the job in Week 2 and he's in an even deeper hole, even though he can hardly help his injured status. Konz will likely be plying his trade elsewhere this season.
- Sean Baker. Baker has managed to hang on through some tumultuous times in Atlanta the last couple of seasons, but the special teamer isn't a tremendous asset at safety, and Keith Armstrong appears to have found plenty of other players he likes on the special teams side. With Charles Godfrey also scuffling he might hang on, but it looks like a real long shot.
- Cliff Matthews. Like Baker, Matthews is a core special teamer. Unlike Baker, he's got a more clearly defined role in the defense as a run-stopping end who can kick inside. Matthews has quietly been excellent value for a seventh round for a long time now, but the defensive line is more crowded than it has been in years, and there may not be room for him.