The Atlanta Falcons did a lot in the last week. They cut down from 80 players to 53, claimed two players off waivers, cut players and then re-signed them, placed five players on injured reserve, and filled 15 of their 16 practice squad slots. It was—it always is, this time of year—a little bit dizzying to keep up with, especially if you are not a debonair-yet-sleep-deprived blogger who is obligated to keep track of it all.
Even if you obsessively keep up with what the Falcons are up to, as I know many (most?) of you do, you may have missed a move or two. Here’s what you may have missed—or just need a refresher on—from the past week.
Cutdown day: The Falcons trim 27 players
Atlanta made their cuts, and those moves came with a few surprises. Veteran tight end Anthony Firkser was expected to be Atlanta’s #2 option behind Kyle Pitts, but he was given the boot and Parker Hesse appeared to lock up that role. Veteran guard Colby Gossett and rookie guard Justin Shaffer both were cut, as well, along with effective defenders Teez Tabor and Abdullah Anderson. Heck, I was a bit surprised to see Frank Darby go, even if I probably shouldn’t have been.
The bigger surprise might have been who made the roster. Rookie tight end John FitzPatrick was only mildly surprising given that we were expecting the team to place him on injured reserve, but the fact that the team kept three undrafted free agents in Jared Bernhardt, Nate Landman, and Timothy Horne did catch me off guard a bit. Mike Ford over Teez Tabor was also a bit of a stunner, if only because Tabor appeared to have the stronger preseason, and Quinton Bell making the roster was very much in doubt until his superlative effort in preseason Week 3.
Those moves brought the team in line with the roster limit, which was a must by 4 p.m. Tuesday, and it gave them the rough outline of their roster for the regular season. Of course, they weren’t done just yet.
A team that spent a lot of time talking about scouting other rosters seemed like a team likely to add players on waivers, and the Falcons did exactly that.
Atlanta added Matt Dickerson off of waivers from Kansas City, re-uniting the defensive lineman with Dean Pees, who coached him in Tennessee. They also picked up former Jets tackle Chuma Edoga, giving them a potential swing tackle candidate for the season ahead. In corresponding moves, they cut Mike Ford and reserve safety Dean Marlowe, keeping the roster at 53 players. This is, at least for now, Atlanta’s way of shoring up both lines.
Neither Ford nor Marlowe would stay gone for long, however.
Injured reserve and related moves
Marlon Davidson and John FitzPatrick hitting injured reserve wasn’t a huge surprise, given that both players have been dealing with injuries that threatened their availability for Week 1. The bigger surprises were the other three players the team put on IR.
Isaiah Oliver, Deion Jones, and Jalen Mayfield joined them on injured reserve. Oliver was the expected starter at the nickel, a position Ford and Dee Alford are now battling for, and Jones was expected to push for a starting job at inside linebacker before surgery and injury effectively wiped out his summer and now the first four weeks of the season. Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker are now starting there. Finally, Mayfield was the anticipated starter at left guard, but Elijah Wilkinson won the job and a nagging back injury is now going to keep the second-year pro out for a while.
In corresponding moves, the team re-signed Ford and Marlowe after briefly cutting both, so they’ll be back to having key reserve roles and special teams roles for this Falcons team. They also added back Colby Gossett and Abdullah Anderson, adding more depth to both lines.
Practice squad (mostly) assembled
As of Friday night, Atlanta had 15 players out of a possible 16 on their practice squad, so it’s pretty close to being assembled. Predictably, the team mostly added players who had been here all summer.
That meant Anthony Firkser, Tucker Fisk, and MyCole Pruitt are on the practice squad, giving the team plenty of insurance given that they currently only have Kyle Pitts and Parker Hesse on the actual roster. It meant the return of Justin Shaffer, Ryan Neuzil, and Tyler Vrabel, giving the Falcons three young offensive linemen to develop. And it mean the addition of useful veterans like Teez Tabor and promising young players like Derrick Tangelo, all of which are very welcome.
The only two new faces thus far—remember, there’s a 16th spot to be filled—are wide receiver and punt returner Josh Ali and cornerback Ka’Dar Hollman. The practice squad may not change much aside from that final addition between now and next Sunday, but it’ll be interesting to see who the Falcons ultimately flex to the roster on gameday. At least one tight end seems like an absolute lock.
That should bring you up to speed as of the time of writing this, but I’m certain there will be more moves in the near future. We’ll keep you updated as we find out about them, as is custom.