The Atlanta Falcons announced today that they signed eight players to their practice squad and also claimed former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Nate Stupar off waivers. To make room for Stupar, the team cut linebacker Tim Dobbins. The Falcons expected to fill the two remaining practice squad spots tomorrow according to Jay Adams of AtlantaFalcons.com. The eight players signed to the practice squad were cornerback Ricardo Allen, safety Sean Baker, offensive linemen Harland Gunn and Terren Jones, wide receiver Bernard Reedy, defensive tackle Travian Robertson, linebacker Jacques Smith and running back Jerome Smith.
The addition of Stupar is a potential boost to special teams. Stupar is a third-year player that began the 2013 season with the San Francisco 49ers, before winding up with the Jaguars. He appeared in a combined 12 games and recorded 10 tackles on special teams. He was waived by the Jaguars yesterday. Originally a seventh-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders out of Penn State in 2012, Stupar spent his rookie season bouncing around the practice squads of the Philadelphia Eagles and 49ers.
Dobbins was signed by the Falcons in mid-June to add depth at inside linebacker when Sean Weatherspoon went down for the year. Dobbins was noted for his special teams ability in past years and was familiar with Mike Nolan’s defensive scheme, but did not perform particularly well during the preseason. With Stupar being 26 years old, the Falcons also get much younger at the position by cutting the 31-year old Dobbins.
Allen was a 2014 fifth-round pick of the Falcons this past May, and was notable in that he was the highest-drafted player waived yesterday in the cutdowns. He will rejoin the Falcons practice squad after the team opted to go with veteran backups in Robert McClain, Javier Arenas and Josh Wilson from this summer’s camp battle.
Baker also adds depth in the secondary after an impressive preseason. He gained prominence during training camp, where a rash of injuries earned him more work with the starters.
Gunn made the Falcons roster a year ago, but was cut yesterday as the team opted to go with undrafted rookie James Stone to bolster the interior of the offensive line.
Jones made it through the initial cutdowns a year ago as an undrafted rookie, but then was placed on the practice squad after the team signed Jeremy Trueblood. He finished the season on the Falcons roster, but was inactive for every game. After a scary concussion early in training camp, Jones returned for the final two preseason games and performed ably.
Reedy was one of the early stars of OTAs and training camp, but his promising practices didn’t translate to consistent production in preseason games. Reedy finished the summer with four catches for 63 yards. He also work as a return specialist, with five kick returns for 125 yards and six punt returns for 43 yards.
Jacques Smith was an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee, that quickly impressed in training camp. But he may have ruined his chances of making the final roster when he was ejected for throwing a punch in the preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.
Jerome Smith was cut in the team’s initial moves to get down to 75 players, and tried out with the New England Patriots before finding his way back to the Falcons. He saw limited reps during the preseason with only 17 offensive snaps.