Within the next day, 27 players will no longer be on the Falcons’ roster, and perhaps even more than that. I keep starting articles with that because it’s a seismic change, a shaking up of a roster that has been pretty stable for months except for small moves and five cuts here and there, and because underneath it and around it the day-to-day business of the Atlanta Falcons goes on.
On Monday, for example, the team practiced. It’s very possible that some of the players who practiced today will not be back in the building again, which must make for a strange day, but the work rolls on. Tori McElhaney with the Falcons had a nice writeup of everything that happened today—it’s noteworthy that Dee Alford continues to work as the first team nickel, I’d say—but with cuts looming I’m most interested in who was not at practice.
The reported absences included Jalen Mayfield (injury, illness), Drake London (injury), Kaleb McGary (illness), Darren Hall (personal matter), Cordarrelle Patterson (rest day), Marlon Davidson (injury), and Dorian Etheridge (who had to be carted off the field against the Jaguars). That’s a fairly long list, and it matters because while all of them would make the roster in a vacuum, some might be placed on injured reserve to make room for other players if their recovery won’t have them back on the field for the first couple of weeks of the season.
McElhaney spelled out one such scenario with Mayfield in her article:
However, Smith did add that Mayfield is continuing to work through a lower back issue that has plagued him all camp. With the 53-man cut down quickly approaching, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Mayfield is stashed on IR after the initial release to make room for Justin Shaffer on the active roster. Something to consider since this back issue has lingered for Mayfield.
You could see something similar play out with Etheridge, who we’re still waiting for an update on, and undrafted free agent Nate Landman. Or with Marlon Davidson, who we know is out at least until the season opener, and one of the young defensive linemen vying for jobs. Smith has been adamant that he expects London back for the season opener and there don’t appear to be any long-term concerns with Patterson, McGary, or Hall, but you’re still talking about three players who might be on the shelf for at least the beginning of the season.
We’ll know soon enough, of course, and we’ll have resolution to the still-ongoing battle for the starting center job. For now, we’ll hope these guys are healthy soon, and that we see them playing for the Falcons this season.