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Falcons snap counts for the preseason finale against the Steelers

The Falcons got their extended looks at players they’re mulling keeping, and that makes our notes for today interesting.

NFL: AUG 24 Preseason - Steelers at Falcons Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It took a while for the NFL to make snap counts for the Falcons-Steelers game available, but with cuts just starting to roll in, it’s definitely not too late to see what those counts tell us.

Let’s not waste time on this Sunday morning and get to those counts, then.


Logan Woodside: 52 (88%)

Jovaughn Gwyn: 46

Justin Shaffer: 46

John FitzPatrick: 40

Jalen Mayfield; 35

Barry Wesley: 35

Michal Menet: 35

Carlos Washington: 32

Mathew Sexton: 31

Josh Ali: 28

Keilahn Harris: 28

Gowdin Igwebuike: 27

Parker Hesse: 27

Xavier Malone: 25

Tyler Vrabel: 24

Josh Miles: 24

Jonotthan Harrison: 24

Slade Bolden: 23

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: 21

Kyle Hinton: 13

Ryan Neuzil: 13

Tucker Fisk: 11

Taylor Heinicke: 7

Clint Ratkovich: 2

The Falcons clearly wanted to park Ryan Neuzil and Kyle Hinton, which tells you they’re in line for roles on the team. The very lengthy playing time for Shaffer and Gwyn, meanwhile, suggests that the Falcons wanted to evaluate both for practice squad spots. I’d say that if the team can only keep one, Gwyn’s strength in pass protection and touted ability to play center and guard this preseason gives him the edge over Shaffer, but the team is clearly mulling both.

The fact that Sexton came out fielding kicks and out-snapped every wide receiver likely bodes well for him, as does the fact that he had one pretty good return and reeled in all three targets that went to him. He and Harris, who caught six passes for 71 yards and was the most reliable target out there for Woodside, at least made strong late cases for practice squad roles. Their only problem? The last roster spot is likely between Ali, Penny Hart (who is injured), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Xavier Malone, and you would have to think at least one or two of those guys would be in line for the practice squad as well.

Washington’s extended run won’t win him the RB4 job over Igwebuike, certainly not after his fumble, but he bounced back from it and continued to show well as a receiving option out of the backfield. The Falcons will sniff around for practice squad candidates, but I’d still bet on Washington having done enough to get that role.

Then there’s FitzPatrick, who dominated snaps at tight end and was pretty good as a blocker. That and the extended run on special teams makes him a player worth watching with cutdown fast approaching, as the team wouldn’t seem to have room for a fifth tight end but may not be willing to expose the second-year player to waivers to sneak him onto the practice squad. Would they really consider cutting ties with MyCole Pruitt or Hesse to get him on the team? I’m dubious but interested to find out, and FitzPatrick has enough upside that I’d hate to lose him.

What to make of the minimal snaps for Clint Ratkovich, who has been a tremendous run blocking fullback this summer? I’d wager he’s already sewn up his practice squad spot, with Keith Smith returning to the roster, but you have to entertain the notion that Ratkovich could sneak on to the practice squad.


Natrone Brooks: 58 (85%)

Micah Abernathy: 49

Clark Phillips: 49

Mike Jones Jr.: 41

Breon Borders: 40

Andre Smith Jr.: 40

DeMarcco Hellams: 39

Lukas Denis: 29

Darren Hall: 28

Tae Davis: 28

Demone Harris: 28

Frank Ginda: 27

Zach Harrison: 26

Ta’Quon Graham: 26

Justin Ellis: 24

Carlos Davis: 24

LaCale London: 23

Joe Gaziano: 22

Kemoko Turay: 21

DeAngelo Malone: 20

Timothy Horne: 20

Jaylinn Hawkins: 19

Caeveon Patton: 18

Bless Austin: 10

Albert Huggins: 8

Clifford Chattman: 6

Arnold Ebiketie: 1

Every reserve inside linebacker jockeying for a role got extended time and played pretty well, I thought. My feeling for a long time has been that Davis is getting the fourth ILB role; if there’s room for a fifth, the fact that the Falcons let Mike Jones Jr. call plays and that he’s played well all summer probably bodes well for him. Ginda and Smith Jr. were pretty excellent in their own right against the Steelers, giving Atlanta some tough decisions to come in terms of who makes the practice squad in particular.

The long look at Brooks, meanwhile, tells you he was one of the players the Falcons absolutely felt they had to evaluate at length. It was an uneven effort for Brooks, who (understandably) was toasted by George Pickens but also made plays on the ball with a pair of pass deflections and battled hard all evening. There’s no room on the roster for Brooks that I can figure, but there should be a spot somewhere in that 16 man practice squad, and I think it’s likely down to him and Darren Hall for that.

The fairly even number of snaps between defensive line candidates means performance should win out, and once again I thought Gaziano and London were the standouts. Gaziano is my favorite for a final roster spot along the defensive line while London has made his big push for a practice squad spot; the fact that Huggins barely played could be considered a good sign for him but he has also struggled each of the last two weeks. He’ll be in play regardless because of his familiarity with defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.

Finally, Abernathy and Hellams each got plenty of run to make their respective cases. I still think one hits the practice squad and one earns a roster spot, but that’s going to be a tough call for this team given that Abernathy acquitted himself well this summer. In the end, I’d give it to Hellams, a young player with intriguing upside who has proven to be a rock solid player in the here and now.

Special teams

Micah Abernathy: 18

John FitzPatrick: 16

DeAngelo Malone: 16

Godwin Igwebuike: 12

DeMarcco Hellams: 10

Mike Jones Jr.: 10

Josh Ali: 9

Frank Ginda; 9

Zach Harrison: 9

Clifford Chattman: 9

Mathew Sexton: 8

Clark Phillips: 8

Tucker Fisk: 8

Bradley Pinion: 8

Liam McCullough: 7

Darren Hall: 7

Slade Bolden: 6

Clint Ratkovich: 6

Natrone Brooks: 6

Kemoko Turay: 5

Tae Davis: 5

Lukas Denis: 5

Demone Harris: 4

Breon Borders: 5

Xavier Malone: 4

Andre Smith Jr.: 4

Carlos Washington: 3

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: 3

LaCale London: 3

Jaylinn Hawkins: 3

Arnold Ebiketie: 3

Ta’Quon Graham: 2

Delontae Scott: 2

Keilahn Harris: 1

Justin Ellis: 1

Joe Gaziano: 1

Carlos Davis: 1

Timothy Horne: 1

Caeveon Patton: 1

Albert Huggins: 1

If you’re a roster longshot and you barely play on special teams, that’s an ominous sign. Two of those players (Ellis and Scott) have already been cut, and Patton and Harris are two players likely to follow in short order. Otherwise, it’s tough to make a lot of the snap counts here, with a couple of exceptions.

It bodes well for FitzPatrick, Abernathy, Igwebuike, and Hellams (Malone is making this team, don’t be silly) that they all got such extended looks on teams, and Ali, Jones Jr. and Ginda also tells you Marquice Williams wanted a longer look at them on Thursday night as well. All of these guys are in line for practice squad spots at minimum—Ginda and Jones Jr. have stiff competition, to be fair—but the first four names and Ali have at least some line of sight to a roster spot that special teams value will help them achieve. Ali may come out of the muddled picture at wide receiver with that WR5 spot because the Falcons like him here and he’s been solid as a pass catcher.

To make the bottom of the roster, it definitely pays off to be able to provide value on special teams on Sunday. You have to think the names atop this list, if Williams likes what he saw, have strengthened their chances ahead of Tuesday.