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Expect Atlanta’s 53 man roster to be far from final

Per Kyle Smith, the Falcons will be watching other teams’ cuts very closely.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons are a work in progress. A team that has vowed to add to the trenches hasn’t done much of that to this point, and it’s fair to argue that the depth is not settled anywhere but quarterback and kicker, where Younghoe Koo needs no backup. Whatever you think of their chances in 2022, this roster is a long ways away from being a championship caliber one. That’s why it’s little surprise to hear the team talking like the roster is set in wobbly gelatin rather than stone.

The latest to do so was Falcons vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith. Speaking on Wednesday at training camp, Smith covered quite a bit of ground—it’s worth checking out Kevin Knight’s camp notes from yesterday and his Twitter feed for more comments—and but I’d choose to focus on what Smith illuminated about the team’s plans as the summer winds down. Highlighting Anthony Rush as a good example of the team’s desire and ability to find quality players who other teams cut ties with, Smith talked about the importance of looking at other teams to find future contributors.

That’s particularly true when hundreds of players are going to be cut in the next month-plus, giving the team the chance to find more players who can contribute the way Rush did, or like James Vaughters managed to after being cut loose by the Bears in late August. That sniffing around won’t stop with cuts, either, as we saw the team add legitimate contributors like safety Shawn Williams, special teamer Daren Bates, and defensive tackle Mike Pennel as the season went on. It’s why Smith spoke about the team scouting 31 other squads to better understand who might become available after the cutdown to 53 players.

As Tori McElhaney wrote in an article about churning the bottom of the roster, it’s simple: Those players on the fringes of other rosters could become Falcons later, because one team’s scraps are another team’s contributors.

“You’re taking about all of the - what we call - bubble guys that may have a chance to get cut,” Smith said. “We’re evaluating them.”

There are no specific names to monitor here just yet, but this underscores the importance of not treating the 53 man roster as if it’s final when Atlanta makes their major cuts later this summer. If the Falcons are serious about snagging useful players who shake loose from other rosters—and Smith has made it clear that they are—at least the bottom of the roster will change. If all goes well, that’ll help ensure that we worry less about some of this team’s gnawing weaknesses by the time Week 1 rolls around.