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Falcons officially place Erik Harris on IR, call up two defenders from practice squad

Shawn Williams and Dorian Etheridge will be up for Sunday’s game against the 49ers.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve known Erik Harris was headed to injured reserve all week, unfortunately, but the Falcons hadn’t made it official until right now. The Falcons are now down one of their starting safeties for Week 15 against the 49ers.

In addition to Harris being placed on IR, the team announced a pair of practice squad players were elevated to the active roster, one as a COVID-19 replacement.

Harris suffered his season-ending injury against the Panthers and finishes the with 12 starts, and as I wrote earlier this week, he’ll be a logical candidate for a re-signing given that Dean Pees is clearly fond of him. In his absence, Jaylinn Hawkins will be asked to step into the starting lineup, giving the intriguing second-year safety an extended audition for a starting job next year and a shot to make a big impact over the final four games. We wish Harris well on his recovery.

Williams, who is a COVID-19 elevation with three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, will serve as safety depth and may be brought up to the roster permanently after this week. The veteran has focused on special teams to this point, but may be asked to play a handful of snaps to give Hawkins, Duron Harmon and Richie Grant a little bit of a break.

Etheridge was one of the standouts of the summer for the Falcons and has played in six games for Atlanta in 2021, factoring in heavily on special teams without any playing time on defense to this point. With Emmanuel Ellerbee on reserve/COVID-19 list, Etheridge will presumably take his special teams snaps for this week.

We’ll see if there are any other moves between now and kickoff, but hopefully Williams and Etheridge can help a winning effort tomorrow.