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Ricky Ortiz “in the lead” at FB, Luke McNitt signs with Vikings

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With the recent changes at FB, Quinn announced that Ricky Ortiz remains the leader even after the addition of Jalston Fowler. Meanwhile, Luke McNitt has managed to find a home with the Vikings.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons had a busy start to the week at the FB position, which is not something that you generally hear in the NFL these days. On Monday, the team decided to shake up the competition, cutting fan-favorite Luke McNitt and signing ex-Titans and Seahawks FB Jalston Fowler. That left Ricky Ortiz’s status a bit up in the air, but Quinn has given us clarity with some post-practice comments.

It was pretty clear that McNitt had fallen behind Ortiz—who looked like an asset in both run blocking and pass protection, and even showed off his receiving ability on a few catches against the Chiefs. The Falcons, never willing to simply “hand” the job to anyone, went out and signed the recently-cut Jalston Fowler to provide even stiffer competition for Ortiz. It was also noticed that Ortiz was wearing a black, non-contact jersey during practice—so this move could have something to do with health as well.

Fowler had been a productive and versatile fullback for both the Titans and the Seahawks at times, though his career has been more recently marred by injuries. He’s a mountain of a man at 5’11, 261, and has developed a reputation as a short-yardage/goal-line specialist with 2 TDs on only 10 carries. He’s certainly big and strong enough, but will Fowler provide the receiving and athletic ability that the Falcons covet from their FB? We’ll see.

For what it’s worth, I think Ortiz has been pretty impressive. Fowler will have to outplay him over the last two preseason games in order to supplant Ortiz. While I was a huge fan of Fowler coming out of college, it would be unwise to assume he’s going to steal the job until we see him play with the team. Obviously, Fowler is at a significant disadvantage by joining the team this late into training camp. I hope for a strong competition between the two of them, as that could legitimately make both players even better.

In other news, the Luke McNitt fans among us will be happy to hear that he has been claimed on waivers by the Minnesota Vikings.

It’s a very good situation for McNitt, who only has to compete against fellow UDFA Kobe McCrary for the starting FB job in Minnesota. McNitt didn’t look bad in Atlanta, he simply got outplayed by the more experienced Ricky Ortiz. Best of luck to him going forward, and I hope he’s able to find his way onto a roster.

What is your take on the Falcons’ FB situation? Do you think Ortiz will hold on to the job, or do you expect Jalston Fowler to win out in the end?