The Falcons kept 11 defensive linemen, which was a bit of a shocker. The safe bet was that there would be a subtraction from that number at some point—I legitimately can’t remember the last time the team kept 11 players on that unit—but it appears that isn’t coming today.
The Falcons are welcoming back Steven Means from the reserve/COVID-19 list, but they’re also cutting ties with linebacker Deone Bucannon, a former Cardinals first round who made the 53 man roster.
Falcons activate DE Steven Means from COVID-19 and release LB Deone Bucannon.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 8, 2020
The return of Means is a welcome one. During the 2018 season, he was a valuable rotational defensive end and an effective one against the run, but a 2019 injury wiped out last season. This year, he’ll be counted on to be a top reserve and member of the rotation, and the Falcons have talked up his pass rush ability in an expanded role. If this line is going to be terrific this year, they’ll need players like Means to really step up into significant roles, even if the depth looks solid at defensive end with Charles Harris, Allen Bailey, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner also behind Takk McKinley and Dante Fowler Jr.
Bucannon, meanwhile, was one of just five linebackers to make the roster, and now seems like a very solid bet to fill the 16th and final practice squad spot, assuming nobody else scoops him up off of waivers. The Falcons will roll into Week 1 with Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun, Mykal Walker and LaRoy Reynolds as of now, though it’s still possible they’ll cut one of their 11 defensive linemen in favor of another one. With the Falcons potentially using three safety sets more often, it’s possible they think they can ride out the next week or two with a limited number of options at linebacker, at minimum.
We’ll see what happens with Bucannon, but we’re happy to have Means back. Let’s see if there are any other corresponding moves to come.