The Falcons are just two weeks away from whittling down the bigger roster for something smaller, more compact, able to drive into the regular season.
We can contemplate and guess exactly who will fill what spots in the final count, though we already know most of it.
Guys are battling for inactive spots right now, with maybe a special teams contribution gig up for grabs that could lead to minor on-field contributions to mix things up.
That’s why this year’s surprise addition could come in the form a defensive tackle; DTs Justin Zimmer and Jon Cunningham, to be exact.
Zimmer came over to Atlanta in April pre-draft and meets the team’s measurement liking, as described here by “@freetrain24” on Falcons Twitter (who’s a great follow, by the way).
Reminder that Justin Zimmer might be a sleeper. The Falcons may hold off signing additional DL depth until they see how some of these rookies and FAs look. pic.twitter.com/KeyaLiBHWc— The bag is secured (@freetrain24) May 8, 2018
His 78.4 Pro Football Focus score smacked me in the face like a halibut fresh from the fish market and makes him one of the key figures to watch as these next two preseason games go on. Now, it’s not that Zimmer was scoring this against top talent, but PFF doesn’t just hand out grades like this on the fly. If you’re going to score close to 80 for them, you’ve had to have done something right.
Another name to watch right now is UDFA Jon Cunningham of Kent State, who’s been earning some first half reps in the preseason.
The Falcons Wire’s Andy Gallagher, another delightful follow on Tweeter, shared this about Cunningham back in May, which seems to be lining up with what he’s doing in August.
Kent State DT Jon Cunningham is pretty impressive. Despite being double-teamed more often than not, he was a good run defender and caused problems for offensive lines with his strength and leverage.— Andy (@falcons_andy) May 22, 2018
The defensive tackle group right now is quite set with Grady Jarrett a star and Terrell McClain, Deadrin Senat and Jack Crawford all looking like quality contributors, but if the team likes what they see from either Zimmer or Cunningham enough to where they don’t want to lose either guy, we might have one of these faces pop up come roster day that will potentially be groomed for more later. After all, McClain’s a free agent next spring.
So, as you consider who to zoom in on Saturday as the latter strings begin to get their play, key in on Zimmer and Cunningham. They could be with us for longer than expected.