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Falcons finalize 10 man practice squad

With yesterday’s addition of TE Carson Meier, it’s all set...for now.

Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

It took a few days, but the Falcons now have their 2019 practice squad finalized. You know, as final as a group of ten players that shifts on a nearly weekly basis can get.

Here’s that practice squad in all its glory.

QB Danny Etling

He was pretty shaky in Week 3 of preseason after joining the Falcons, but settled in nicely in Week 4, threw some pretty balls, and scrambled impressively and often. With Kurt Benkert on the shelf, Etling will be the team’s break-in-case-of-emergency option as a backup quarterback, and if he can refine his obvious talent he ought to give Benkert a decent battle a year from now.

WR Christian Blake

Raheem Morris called Blake a Mohamed Sanu clone at one point, which is a high compliment given its implications. Blake is a sturdy, pretty polished receiver who flashed more in practice than on gameday, though he did haul in a pretty touchdown pass against the Jaguars. With Sanu possibly heading elsewhere in 2020, Justin Hardy on a one year deal at the moment, and Olamide Zaccheaus guaranteed little, Blake is absolutely in play for a roster spot next season if he hangs around.

WR Brandon Powell

Powell is a fascinating choice because he’s a speedy young receiver who has actually already produced a little at the NFL level, putting up 11 receptions for 129 yards in his rookie season in Detroit. His athleticism makes him interesting, and with the Falcons letting Marcus Green leave, they may be hoping Powell (who returned a couple of punts and kicks last year) can eventually grow into the role they originally envisioned for their 2019 sixth rounder.

TE Carson Meier

The new addition is an interesting one. Meier reeled in four touchdowns in his final year at Oklahoma and saw time at both tight end and fullback for the Sooners, which fits the mold of what the Falcons are hoping to get from Luke Stocker and (judging by preseason) Jaeden Graham in 2019. He’ll chill on the practice squad and hope for a future opportunity to put that versatility to work for Atlanta.

OC/OG Sean Harlow

This one’s a bit of a head scratcher from a results perspective. Harlow was a fourth rounder who was mothballed on the practice squad for the entire 2017 season, wound up heading to the Colts for a while, and then came back late last year. The Falcons gave him a ton of run this preseason at both guard and center, and Harlow’s best games were...fine? He hasn’t looked special at all to this point, but Wes Schweitzer is a free agent in 2020 and the Falcons have been looking for a legitimate reserve center for a long time. Maybe one more year makes a big difference for Harlow, who has always been an interesting athlete.

DE Austin Larkin

He did nothing but produce all preseason on defense and special teams, showing a good motor, pretty violent hands, and an ability to both be around the ball and impact the man carrying it. Larkin’s been called a sleeper at least a couple of times before, but Atlanta’s defensive line is not loaded up over the long haul, and I’m excited to see if Larkin can be an impactful reserve either late this year or next.

DT Justin Zimmer

Zimmer’s one of those guys you want to give a couple of years. The former small school product will be 27 this year, but when he has gotten on the field he’s shown quick feet, good strength, and an ability to force his way into the backfield. Defensive tackle figures to be a wasteland beyond Grady Jarrett and Deadrin Senat in 2020—assuming the Falcons don’t sign new crush Tyeler Davison to a multi-year deal—and Zimmer would presumably be first up for a shot out of the current group.

DT Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

Mariner has shown less than Zimmer to this point, but he came on later in the preseason and looked stout against the run. He’s also just 23 years old and made a nice, evident leap from 2018 to 2019. The Falcons aren’t going to keep all these guys around, but again with their defensive line potentially turning over quite a bit next season, Tuioti-Mariner is a player to keep an eye on.

LB/S Jamal Carter

The former Bronco got a little run at linebacker but has primarily played safety, making Kemal Ishmael something of a best case comp here. Carter’s got the size, speed, and physicality to be a nasty player but hasn’t put it together to this point. That versatility, a little special teams value, and being with a team that prizes raw talent could do wonders for the 25-year-old.

S Chris Cooper

Injury will have much more of an impact on who from this group—if anyone—gets called up than how impressive they are in practice. But Cooper was a player the Falcons clearly liked in free agency this spring, they got a good long look at him at both safety and nickel cornerback in preseason, and they saw a player who has his adventures in coverage but is solid in support and quite fast and capable overall. He could join the 53 man roster at some point this year, especially if the Falcons don’t love what they get from Sharrod Neasman and Kemal Ishmael in the early going.