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Falcons add S J.J. Wilcox to practice squad

There’s apparently a question of whether they’ll have him Sunday, however.

NFL: SEP 27 Falcons at Cowboys Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UPDATE: He’s signed, and I’d expect him to be up on the roster Sunday.

J.J. Wilcox is probably a familiar name for Falcons fans at this point, even if he’s never actually taken the field for the team. Wilcox went into the summer of 2019 aiming to be the team’s third or fourth safety, but an injury cruelly snuffed out that particular dream. He re-signed with the Falcons in 2020 but somewhat surprisingly did not make the roster or the practice squad out of camp.

Now D. Orlando Ledbetter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that it appears he’s on his way back to Atlanta, and not a moment too soon given the way the team’s safety depth has been decimated by injury. The open question appears to be whether he’ll clear the NFL’s COVID-related hoops in time to get on the field Sunday against the Panthers, per the AJC’s Jason Butt.

Atlanta truly needs the help. Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal are hurt and may not return Sunday, while Jaylinn Hawkins may have suffered a concussion and Damontae Kazee is now out for the season with the latest in a long line of devastating Achilles injuries for this safety group. That leaves Sharrod Neasman and Jamal Carter as the team’s two healthy options at the position, and Carter is on the practice squad. Fellow practice squad addition T.J. Green figures to be up unless Wilcox is able to join the squad or roster on Sunday, but that would leave the Falcons needing to dip into the linebacker position or corner just to field safeties if any more injuries strike.

There’s also the small matter that Neasman and Carter mostly struggled against the Packers, and that the Falcons have been unable to cover running backs and tight ends all year in part due to shaky safety play and injury. Wilcox isn’t going to save that by himself, but his physicality will at least be useful for a team just trying to get by and get a win. We’ll see how soon he can join the team.