The Falcons worked out a handful of players last week, and the common thread running through those workouts was special teams value. Now they’ve signed someone to the practice squad, and it’s the player with the most established history of being an impactful player on special teams.
Welcome linebacker Daren Bates to Atlanta, if you would.
Falcons have added LB Daren Bates to the practice squad.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) October 18, 2021
Bates overlapped with Arthur Smith in Tennessee, where he spent the past four seasons, and he’s been a core special teamer for three teams over the past eight seasons. In that span, he’s never played fewer than 62% of the special teams snaps and regularly finished with double digit special teams tackles.
He hasn’t played much on defense, but that’s not really what this signing is about, given Bates’ history and the team’s noteworthy struggles in kickoff coverage the past two weeks. It can’t really be overstated how big the two second half returns were for Washington, as that effectively transformed the course of the game, and the Jets, who were able to hang around in part because of the touchdown they managed off Tevin Coleman’s 65 yard sprint. Atlanta frankly isn’t a good enough football team to surrender those kinds of returns and still win consistently, so going out and adding a player like Bates is a smart play. I’m willing to bet he’ll be flexed to the active roster this week.
So in summary, this signing has Marquice Williams’ fingerprints all over it, as Bates will give him a player teammates rave about who is also an experienced and hyper-reliable option on teams. He can play linebacker in a pinch but considering he has three career snaps on D, that’ll be an emergency situation. He’s also a good tackler, as you might guess.
Give Bates a warm welcome to Atlanta, and let’s hope his addition helps end the team’s alarming recent run of allowing long kickoff returns that change the complexion of games.