The swing tackle battle promised to be a lively one, but then most of the candidates played poorly, Kevin Graf got hurt, and Austin Pasztor was signed, which more or less ended the intrigue.
Or at least, that was the case, until we found out that Pasztor is also still injured. Now we’ve learned he won’t suit up at all for the fourth preseason game, meaning the Falcons won’t get more than a look at him in practice before they presumably hand him the swing tackle job.
Tackle Austin Pasztor has yet to be cleared to do team work at practice, that’s it right now.— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) August 29, 2017
The team did say they hoped he’d be back in practice next week, which is, you know, the week before the season opener.
Pasztor is a veteran with significant starting experience, so it’s not like he needs this time, but he certainly could use. As far as options go for Jake Matthews’ and Ryan Schraeder’s backup, he’s young enough and talented enough to feel good about if he’s healthy. In the meantime, the Falcons are trying to figure out who they will keep from a group that includes Daniel Brunskill (who has been extremely up and down in his extensive action), DJ Tialavea (who just converted from tight end), Andreas Knappe, Will Freeman, and probably some other guys. Graf, as mentioned, is hurt and likely to be waived with an injury settlement. One or two of those guys will hit the practice squad when all is said and done.
In other words, this isn’t necessarily anything to worry about unless Pasztor won’t be systems go for Week 1. That would be sort of a nightmare scenario for the Falcons, who have no inspiring options beyond Pasztor, and would have to carry a body for a week just to get by. If Pasztor is healthy and they have one tackle they like enough to put on the practice squad, however, this thing will probably work out just fine.
In the meantime, look for Brunskill, Tialavea, Knappe, and Freeman to make their final cases for practice squad spots Thursday night. Who do you think will make it?