Avery Williams was doubtful to play in this Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, so it’s fair to say we weren’t counting on him playing tomorrow. As part of a flurry of moves and announcements on Saturday, though, the Falcons went ahead and downgraded Williams to out.
With Kaleb McGary set to miss the game due to a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Falcons have also flexed practice squad outside linebacker James Vaughters to the roster using a COVID-19 flex spot. They were still able to elevate two other players from the practice squad, and unsurprisingly, it’s new special teams signing Daren Bates and cornerback Chris Williamson joining up.
This is disappointing for Williams, who was faring well as the team’s punt returner and was the first man up for Isaiah Oliver’s role when the veteran was injured. This will be his second straight game missed due to injury, and given that there was a bye between those two weeks, it’s fair to wonder if he’s a lock to see the field next week. We’ll hope he can come back soon, but in the meantime, it’s likely fellow rookies Richie Grant and Darren Hall will fill his role on defense and Olamide Zaccheaus will continue to handle punts.
Vaughters is likely to be a small part of the team’s plan to replace Dante Fowler, who hit injured reserve recently, with Ade Ogundeji, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Brandon Copeland likely seeing more snaps. Bates is going to be expected to contribute on special teams as a veteran leader and sure tackler after the team allowed two huge kickoff returns in the past two weeks. Williamson, meanwhile, will play a small role on special teams and serve as a reserve cornerback the team likes, which is especially vital given the way injuries have been piling up at the position.