The Falcons came into training camp with the announcement that no rookies had tested positive for COVID-19, which was a big positive. As has been the case with pretty much everything in 2020, however, the good news did not last long.
As camp has begun, the team has steadily begun to add players to the reserve/COVID-19 list, which means they either tested positive for the virus or they’ve come in close contact with someone who has. Players who hit that list are away from the team indefinitely until they can have two negative tests in a row, and thus far guys like Keith Smith and rookie Jaylinn Hawkins have hit that list for Atlanta.
Now Foye Oluokun has been added to the list, and he’s the biggest name thus far.
We have placed LB Foye Oluokun on the reserve/COVID-19 list.— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 2, 2020
We have released P Ryan Allen and we have waived Caleb Repp, Austin Capps, Scottie Dill and Jordan Williams. https://t.co/oj4YwMjeqS
Oluokun is the presumptive starter next to Deion Jones for the Falcons in nickel sets, when the team typically only deploys two linebackers, and an obvious starter on early downs when the Falcons might deploy three. In fill-in duty and spot starts along the way over the past two seasons, Oluokun has displayed quality coverage chops, tackling ability, and awareness, and he doesn’t have any strong competition for the gig assuming he’s healthy. I have very high hopes for him in whatever version of the 2020 season we ultimately get, so this is crummy news.
As always, we’re hoping that Oluokun is safe and healthy and back on the field soon, and that we’ll miraculously see no further Falcons on the list going forward. That last bit seems unfortunately unlikely, though.