The constraints of a 53-man roster stress out every NFL general manager. I’ve never met him, but I’d imagine Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is no exception. And that’s why the process of cutting guys and then filling out a practice squad, however insignificant in the grand scheme of things, is never easy.
The Falcons finalized their current practice squad earlier this week. It’s a good-looking group. A few of these guys will inevitably wind up on the 53-man roster at some point this season. But just for the sake of argument, who’s missing? Who should have nabbed a spot on the practice squad but didn’t?
Miles had a fantastic training camp and preseason, including a sack and a forced fumble. He also baked some delicious cookies for the coaching staff, because that’s the only logical reason they felt the need to keep talking about him over and over. The Falcons are pretty deep along the defensive front, particularly when you include Steven Means and Michael Bennett (both on injured reserve). So I get why it likely had to be one of Miles or Austin Larkin, and I get that Larkin showcased an ability to contribute on special teams. Heck, even Dave called that one a few weeks back. But Miles’ quickness and potential as a pass rusher is undeniable. I won’t be surprised if we haven’t seen the last of him in Atlanta.
Brooks-James broke out in a big way during the last preseason game, racking up 137 rushing yards and scoring twice. The Buccaneers promptly swooped in this week and signed Brooks-James to their practice squad. And to be clear, one outstanding preseason performance does not a career make. Plus there’s the stone-cold reality that the Falcons already decided to carry five running backs on their 53-man roster. All that said, Brooks-James appears to be a special player, and watching him land on a “rival” (hopefully milk didn’t squirt out of your nose when you read that) practice squad is uncomfortable at best.
Crawford was cut by the Falcons last weekend and then had a tryout with the Saints on Tuesday. As of today’s date, he remains a free agent. This is all a little shocking given some of the buzz he generated during rookie mini-camp. But as the preseason progressed, Crawford’s snap counts undeniably foreshadowed his eventual departure. In his defense, Crawford’s path to a roster spot was damn near impassable. Jermaine Grace blew everyone’s socks off and the rest of the linebacker corps was more or less set in stone already. But given his size and sheer athleticism, I doubt we’ve seen the last of Crawford in an NFL uniform.
This is my list, and I’ll be totally honest, I know there are strategic reasons some of these guys don’t make sense for the Falcons right now. When you’re assembling a practice squad, it isn’t always about who is the best player available. But that said, it’ll be bittersweet to see these guys go on to have success in other uniforms.
Assuming some fluidity in the composition of the practice squad going forward, what does your short list look like, Falcoholics?