The Falcons went without several key players last week against the Buffalo Bills, which made a tough road matchup even more challenging. With the deeply obnoxious Saints on the horizon, Atlanta is thankfully getting some of those players back early in the week.
Per the team, six players have been activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list, including starting safety Jaylinn Hawkins, backup tight end Hayden Hurst, and defensive lineman Marlon Davison. In addition, the Falcons cut quarterback Matt Barkley and added tight end Parker Hesse to the active roster, a week after he was the team’s leading receiver in the second half against the Bills.
We have activated six players off the reserve/COVID-19 list. https://t.co/vmLGfM7Dq8— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 4, 2022
Hawkins is the biggest name here. Shawn Williams did an admirable job while being pressed into action against Buffalo, but Hawkins has turned in a good season and is eyeing a starting job in 2022 and will be needed against the Saints. Tajae Sharpe will slot right back in as a starting receiver opposite Russell Gage in this one, while Hayden Hurst figures to take on his customary 30-plus snaps and hopefully touchdown grab against New Orleans. Marlon Davidson will help out a shaky defensive line, James Vaughters will be welcome as one of the few players getting any pressure from the outside linebacker position, and Willie Beavers will head back to the practice squad to continue to be Willie Beavers at a high level.
With Kyle Pitts questionable for the upcoming matchup—we’re still waiting on an official injury designation, but we haven’t gotten any clear word to this point on his status—Hesse will join the active roster. He’s proven to be a capable blocker when pressed into action this season and did a nice job as a receiver against Buffalo, and seems likely to return as a reserve tight end in 2022. The Falcons also parted ways with Matt Barkley, who appears not to have made a huge impression on this team in his brief stint in Atlanta. It’s possible he’ll be added to the practice squad and snag a reserve/future contract in the offseason for a longer look in the spring and summer.
That’s a busy Tuesday of moves, but the upshot is that the Falcons are healthier and more capable with an opportunity to knock the Saints out of the playoffs looming. That’s good news.