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Kemal Ishmael returns to Falcons for 2018 season

The veteran linebacker/safety and special teamer is back in the fold.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons didn’t commit to bringing back Kemal Ishmael earlier in the offseason, but luckily, that didn’t wind up mattering. Ish is back in Atlanta on a one-year deal, per the team. It will be his sixth season playing for the Falcons.

Ishmael is that rare seventh rounder who has beaten the odds, having gone from a solid enough special teamer to a core member of Keith Armstrong’s unit over the last few seasons. He’s also been a solid safety and linebacker in a pinch, having started 20 games over the last four years and managing 137 tackles, a sack, and five interceptions in that span.

Ishmael is not necessarily a hyper-athletic player and his coverage liabilities likely sparked a move from safety to linebacker for the Falcons, but he’s an aggressive, physical player who tackles well and makes plays on the ball when given the opportunity to do so. He’ll return to Atlanta this year as one of the most active and involved special teamers on the squad and a reserve at linebacker, probably pulling down a small handful of snaps per game unless the Falcons make multiple additions via the draft and free agency.

I’m delighted to welcome Ishmael back, and it’s nice to know the Falcons have at least some depth at linebacker at the moment.