The Falcons are less than a full week away from having a 53 man roster and at least most of a 10 man practice squad locked down. This has snuck up on me this year, likely because of the absolute grind of a five game August, but we’re very nearly there.
There is relatively little intrigue left, and we’ll be rounding up the roster battles this week both before and after the final game. What really remains is to see those last few spots, how the Falcons will configure them, and whether the fourth and final “true” preseason game changes any hearts or minds. Chances are most of the decisions to come have already been made, however.
Given what’s ahead, it’s an excellent time to re-visit some important upcoming dates for the league calendar. What follows is the standard NFL language about key dates mixed with what it means for the Falcons.
August 31: Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List. That means the Falcons will need to trim 37 players within two days of their final preseason game.
Simultaneously with the cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non- Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.
What it means for the Falcons: Cuts, and lots of them. As was the case a year ago and is often the case, the “final” 53 man roster is unlikely to be very final, with a couple of players making the roster who may give way to fresh signings from the waves upon waves of players other teams are cutting. This is particularly relevant at the kicker position, where Giorgio Tavecchio and Blair Walsh may not last longer than very early September.
September 1: Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12 noon, New York time.
Upon receipt of the Personnel Notice at approximately 1:00 p.m., New York time, clubs may establish a practice squad of 10 players. No club, including the player’s prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a practice player contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above Personnel Notice that such player’s prior NFL player contract has been terminated via the waiver system.
What it means for the Falcons: The team can pull together a 10 man practice squad. There are a host of interesting candidates this year for those spots, but among the names to watch really closely are Danny Etling, Christian Blake and Olamide Zaccheaus, Alex Gray, Sean Harlow, Parker Baldwin, Yurik Bethune and Del’Shawn Phillips, and Chris Odom. We’ll see who they end up keeping, but you’re always an injury away from potentially needing one of these players, so the selections count.
September 2-7: In accordance with the Personnel (Injury) Report Policy, each club is required to file a Practice Report with the NFL Communications department by 4:00 p.m., New York time, (or as soon as possible after the completion of practice) every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a regular season Sunday game; Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for a Thursday game; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for a Monday game; and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for a Saturday game.
Each club must also file a weekly regular season Game Status Report with the NFL Communications department by 4:00 p.m., New York time (or as soon as possible after the completion of practice) on Wednesday for a Thursday game, Friday for a Sunday game, Saturday for a Monday game, and Thursday for a Saturday game. An update must be reported if there is any change in a player’s condition after the initial Game Status Report is filed.
What it means for the Falcons: We’re going to get injury updates thrice a week, as we’re accustomed to. As always, Wednesday is the day where we first learn about injuries from the previous week and how they’re being classified, Thursday is a day that can largely be ignored, and Friday helps us gain a better sense of who is playing for the upcoming game. Hooray information!
September 6: At 12:00 a.m., New York time, the Top 51 Rule expires for all NFL clubs.
What it means for the Falcons: The team’s top 51 contracts are not the only ones that count against the salary cap, which means everyone’s going to. If the Falcons were somehow caught unaware by this and went over the cap, it would be a gigantic story, because they’re had ample time to prepare.
September 8: Falcons @ Vikings, 1 p.m. EST
What it means for the Falcons: Foooooootbaaaaalllllllll.