The Atlanta Falcons have seen injuries pile up in recent weeks, and their depth at inside linebacker has been challenged. The good news for the Falcons is that the depth they’ve been forced to rely on has really stepped up.
That was true for Nate Landman, who has become a full-time starter for the Falcons with Troy Andersen lost for the season. And it has been true for Andre Smith Jr., who did well in preseason and has been on the practice squad much of the year except a brief stint on the active roster. Having fared pretty well in his limited action, Smith has become a player the Falcons like. That’s why they’ve signed him to the active roster.
Smith joins up with Kaden Elliss and Landman to form Atlanta’s inside linebacker group, because in a corresponding move, the Falcons have released Tae Davis. Primarily a special teamer, Davis has been active much of the year in that role, but a Week 8 concussion opened the door for Smith to be called up from the practice squad. Now Smith is replacing him outright, at least for now, and we’ll see if Davis returns to the practice squad to provide further depth and in case the team winds up needing that special teams help down the line.
Smith’s ascension from summer standout to the active roster is a testament to how well he’s done in his opportunities, and now he’s the third inside linebacker for the Falcons for at least the moment. The hope will be that the team won’t need him to play overmuch on defense, because Elliss and Landman will be healthy and holding down the fort, but the team is trusting Smith if it comes to that. After their success with Landman, we’ll trust they’re making the right decision.