Sterling Hofrichter came into 2021 expected to be the team’s punter for a second straight season, though he was facing new competition in the form of Dom Maggio, a former Raven the team made the first free agent signing of the Terry Fontenot era. Now it appears he won’t get the chance to compete for the starting job this year, as the team waived him with an injury designation and added punter Cameron Nizialek.
This surprising move comes just ahead of the start of the first padded practice of Falcons training camp, and leaves Atlanta with two fresh faces set to compete for the punter job.
We have waived/injured P Sterling Hofrichter and have signed P Cameron Nizialek. https://t.co/xPyROEXudN— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 3, 2021
Nizialek is probably a familiar name, as John Deighton notes in the linked writeup that he spent three weeks on the team’s practice last year. The Columbia and Georgia product has spent time with the Ravens, Falcons and Jaguars in the pros, and he averaged 45 yards per punt in his lone season in Georgia. He has yet to punt in an NFL regular season game, but that may change if he can push for the job here.
He’ll join Maggio, who may now become the favorite for the punter job. The Wake Forest product was excellent in college and obviously caught the eye of assistant director of college scouting Dwaune Jones when he was a scout with Baltimore, and he’s got a booming leg. The Falcons may not be done shuffling at the position, but if Maggio and Nizialek show well, one of them will likely come out of camp as Atlanta’s punter.
Hofrichter, meanwhile, will hit injured reserve if he doesn’t get picked up by another team. We’ll see if he winds up possibly returning in 2021, but it’s a blow for the team and for Hofrichter himself, who held the job throughout the 2020 season as a rookie. Stay tuned for updates on his status.