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A closer look at the Falcons practice squad as Week 1 preparations get underway

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Fact: Austin Larkin can fry pickles with his eyes

NFL: AUG 15 Preseason - Jets at Falcons Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Falcons practice squad started to take shape yesterday. Exciting! And to be sure, this process is always an interesting one to watch, as teams look to stash away some of the guys that were on their respective roster bubbles.

So join me, Falcons fans, as we take a closer look at the current state of the Falcons practice squad.

QB Danny Etling

Etling couldn’t stick in New England before he arrived in Atlanta. And with Matt Schaub entrenched as Matt Ryan’s backup, this was, in essence, Etling’s best case scenario. It gives him a shot to hang around in anticipation of a camp battle with Kurt Benkert next summer. Etling’s performance in the final pre-season game was solid and it effectively guaranteed him this spot on the practice squad: 15 for 25 passing, 174 passing yards, and a passing touchdown.

WR Brandon Powell (not confirmed by team)

Powell started for the Lions at the end of last season, and apparently their fans took a strong liking to his skillset. That said, the Lions ultimately cut the University of Florida alum after an inconsistent preseason. And to be frank, the Lions WR depth isn’t all that impressive, so the fact that he didn’t make that team is noteworthy.

WR Christian Blake

Blake really got the coaching staff’s attention during the preseason, especially during the Hall of Fame game where he racked up 46 receiving yards on 5 receptions. His fancy, 12-yard touchdown reception during the preseason finale undoubtedly helped his cause as well. In Blake the Falcons have a sure-handed, dynamic young receiver with a lot of upside. They stashed him on their practice squad last season and are going to initially go the same route again this season.

OG Sean Harlow

Harlow is a guy the front office and coaching staff undoubtedly see some unrealized potential in. The converted tackle got a lot of run at both center and guard during training camp and the preseason. In the preseason game against Washington, Harlow actually graded out as the Falcons’ best offensive lineman. And with Wes Schweitzer serving as Alex Mack’s only backup, perhaps the Falcons feel the need to keep an alternative option handy. He was the Falcons’ fourth-round draft pick in 2017, which may also explain some of their loyalty to Harlow’s cause.

DE Austin Larkin

Larkin drew rave reviews from the coaching staff all summer, both on defense and while playing special teams. He served as the Falcons’ special teams captain for a game and many predicted he’d land a spot on the Falcons’ 53-man roster. Larkin showcased a non-stop motor and a relentless style of play during the preseason and it won’t be surprising to see him make his way onto the 53-man roster at some point.

DT Justin Zimmer

Zimmer is a guy the Falcons clearly like. He made their 53-man roster out of training camp last season before eventually landing on the practice squad. Back on the practice squad at the outset of the 2019 season, Zimmer was engaged in a lengthy camp battle with Deadrin Senat. Zimmer was actually ahead of Senat on the depth chart throughout the preseason. The Falcons love Zimmer’s athleticism and he will undoubtedly find his way onto the 53-man roster at some point this season.

DT Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

Tuioti-Mariner is another former member of the Falcons practice squad. He looked solid at throughout the preseason and the coaching staff let him showcase his abilities by giving him extended playing time. He looked more capable agains the run during preseason action as well. He’s an athletic guy whose game is many-sided, forcing the Falcons to keep him around.

LB/S Jamal Carter

Carter comes to Atlanta by way of Denver. He’s a former UDFA that made the Bronco’s 53-man roster and played in 16 games as a rookie in 2017. He missed all of 2018 due to injury. During the offseason, he tried to convert from safety to middle linebacker, an experiment that apparently didn’t work. That said, he’s the kind of player Dan Quinn covets and the Falcons seem committed to finding some sort of role for him.

S Chris Cooper

The Falcons signed Cooper to a two-year contract this offseason, which tells you something about how they perceived him heading into the summer. His dynamic play during the preseason made cutting him an incredibly hard decision for the Falcons. He graded out as the Falcons best defensive player against the Jets and racked up 12 tackles over five games. He started the last two preseason games. Cooper is another guy that will likely find his way onto the 53-man roster at some point this season.

Well there you have it, Falcoholics. That’s the current practice squad. I’d imagine we may see a little tweaking here and there as we move forward, but for now, this is not a bad looking group.