Today should be a bittersweet, exciting day for Falcons fans. As cuts roll in, the 53 man roster will start to take shape. But if you’re a player on the roster bubble, waiting around for the grim reaper is no fun at all. And this year in particular, I don’t envy the coaching staff, because they have some really difficult decisions to make.
Let’s take a look at the current state of the roster bubble. But before we do, a couple things worth noting. First, the Falcons held out 35 players last night. That should tell you how few spare roster spots there are to go around. Second, at the post-game presser, general manager Thomas Dimitroff made it clear that they pretty much already have 27 cuts in mind.
Larkin had a fantastic game last night, notwithstanding a defensive holding penalty. He showcased his uncanny ability to create pressure, one way or another. Larkin has established himself on special teams as well, which certainly doesn’t hurt his cause.
Miles has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff since training camp began. Like Larkin, Miles’ never-ending motor can help this team win football games. In a perfect world, the Falcons could find a way to keep both Larkin and Miles around. But realistically, only one of the two men will still be around by the end of the weekend.
Jaeden Graham/Logan Paulsen
Graham drew a penalty during the third quarter that brought back a 15-yard Qadree Ollison run. But that one mistake won’t make cutting him any easier. He had a nice downfield catch last night and a nice block during Brooks-James’ 52-yard touchdown run. Graham may still be working his way back from what was initially feared to be a season-ending injury, but it’s not showing. Because Graham can also fill in at fullback as needed, I won’t be surprised if Graham lasts the weekend and Logan Paulsen does not.
The third-string quarterback had himself a night. He rushed 10 times for 67 yards and completed 15 of 25 passes with one passing TD. Etling is a talented kid, but since Matt Schaub decided to handcuff himself to a chair in the quarterback room, Etling will soon find himself on the outside looking in. Lucky for him, tonight’s film ought to land him spot somewhere, maybe even on the Falcons practice squad.
Brooks-James, the Falcons’ sixth string running back, racked up 137 rushing yards and scored twice. His 52-yard run was fantastic, especially because he broke three tackles on his way to the end zone. Unfortunately there just doesn’t seem to be room for Brooks-James on the 53 man roster. It’d be great if the Falcons could sneak him onto their practice squad, but that seems unlikely, given the showcase he put on tonight.
Stanley injured his shoulder Thursday night, which is unfortunate timing for the young defensive back. Stanley has exceeded expectations during his transition from wide receiver to cornerback. In fact, he was having a great game (including a tackle for loss on a fourth and 1) before he got injured.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here’s the bottom line: Sorting out the roster bubble didn’t get any easier after last night’s drubbing of the Jaguars. The Falcons have some incredibly hard decisions to make today. Like it or not, the Falcons will need to cut some truly talented football players today. With any luck, they’ll sneak some of those players onto their practice squad.
Your thoughts, Falcoholics?