Imagine yourself at Arthur's Café Flowery Branch, sipping on a root bear float, pondering who will be the third running back on the Falcons roster this year.
And, there he is. This new guy in town – he’s been making a few catches here and there, the beat writers have been tweeting his name a bunch. Oh, and boy howdy, he had that one play in that preseason game – what a beauty. The way he caught the ball! The speed! The toughness when Johnny Nobody from Whoknowswhere State Tech laid the hammer on him.
Of all the training camps in the world, he had to wonder into mine.
He goes by many names – J.D. McKissic. Bernard Reedy. Nordly Capi. Geraldo Boldewijn. Noriaki Kinoshita. Darius Johnson.
*peers firmly into the past, as to avoid facing the future*
Just like Rick and Ilsa weren’t meant to be in the turmoil of Casablanca, you and your Falcons preseason darling are not meant to be together.
The Falcons will kill your preseason darling, and they will do it with no mercy. Play it again, Thomas.
Once the powers that be give the final roster call, the guys we follow, cheer for, spend time agonizing over when we make our roster predictions as to how many of them we will keep – they’ll be the ones who end up on the cut list.
It happens every year. Every. Single Year.
Think back to just last year – the great Wilds/Ward debate that embroiled Falcons Twitter in a fierce debate over the one roster spot behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Wilds looked like the next Jim Brown when playing against other people who aren’t as good at football as people who play it for a living. He was electrifying, even if it was kind of pointless. And, when we all prepared the great welcoming of Wilds to the Brotherhood, the team cut both he and Terron Ward, only kept two running backs and then brought on Ward from the practice squad when Coleman was out for a couple of weeks.
Wilds is now with the Cleveland Browns after spending time with the New York Jets on their practice squad. For all we know, Wilds could be the next Jim Brown. But he won’t realize that in Atlanta. None of them will. None of them ever do.
This year, the flock has its most beloved UDFAs – WR Reggie Davis – he’s fast! A Georgia boy! He had that one catch that was so great! And, hey, how about J’Terius Jones! Golly, does he look good out there rushing the passer. And my guy Jermaine Grace – they’ve got him running reps with the first team! Don’t forget about Jarnor Jones’ sick interception!
But, you know how it goes. In about a month, some of these guys will be distant memories. They’re Falcon fatales.
Here’s looking at you, Amsterdam.
Look – sometimes, undrafted guys break through. In 2013, both Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu cracked the roster and started for some time on some struggling Falcons defense. UDFA CB Brian Poole is now the starting nickel corner. Ever heard of Brent Grimes?
This year, impressive UDFA WR Marvin Hall, one of OC Steve Sarkisian’s guys at Washington (and really, even Davis) could crack the roster at the last spot if the team deems it has too many smaller possession receivers (don’t tell Scrappy Nick that). And, for all we know, the team could like a guy like J’Terius Jones or Grace to fill one of the more vulnerable spots on the roster. Maybe even DE Chris Odom or WR Josh Magee! That’ll be up to Dan Quinn and company.
But, far too often, we’re on the landing strip as the plane gears up, bidding our preseason darlings farewell, saying it’s the start of a beautiful friendship that we know won’t last.
We know the drill. The Falcons, like all the other NFL teams as time goes by, will kill your preseason darlings.
We’ll always have Miami.
Cory is an editor at fellow Falcons site Rise Up Reader (@RiseUpReader on Twitter). You can find more Falcons coverage from him there.