As first reported by ESPN, the Atlanta Falcons announced several roster moves including the signing of running back Michael Ford. The team also signed tight end D.J. Tialavea and waived/injured tight end Beau Gardner and waived wide receiver Freddie Martino to make room for the new additions. Should Gardner clear waivers, he will wind up on the Falcons’ injured reserve.
The addition of Ford helps shore up depth at running back where Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are expected to miss multiple weeks with hamstring strains. Ford most recently played with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, but also played for the Chicago Bears in 2013.
Ford was an undrafted free agent out of LSU with the Bears after declaring early for the 2013 NFL Draft. During his career at LSU, he shared backfield duties with the likes of Stevan Ridley, Alfred Blue, Spence Ware, Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill, all of whom are currently in the NFL. Ford’s best season came as a sophomore when he led LSU with 756 rushing yards on 127 carries (6.0 avg) and seven touchdowns, outpacing Ware (707 yards). But he saw his playing time decrease as a junior with the emergence of Hillard and Hill, as Ford’s production fell to 392 yards on 71 carries (5.5 avg) and three touchdowns.
As a rookie with the Bears he appeared in 12 games exclusively on special teams, where he recorded a pair of tackles. He was cut by the Bears at the end of their 2014 training camp and was out of football last fall. He signed with the Tiger-Cats in June, but was cut on July 21.
Tialavea was an undrafted free agent out of Utah State with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. Tialavea also spent a month on the practice squad of the Buffalo Bills following his release by the Jaguars at the end of last summer. He started 17 games over the course of his career at Utah State, but had his best season as a senior where he caught 17 passes for 93 yards (5.5 avg) and three touchdowns in six games. His final year of college was cut short by a broken foot.
Gardner was signed by the Falcons as an undrafted free agent this year out of Northern Arizona. An athletic specimen, Gardner caught 28 passes for 412 yards (14.7 avg) and five touchdowns in his final year of college. He suffered a twisted knee earlier this week in practice.
Martino was an undrafted free agent of the Falcons a year ago out of North Greenville. He had a quiet preseason last summer, but his lone catch was one that counted, snagging a 67-yard touchdown pass in the preseason finale. That helped him land on the team’s practice squad for the first few weeks of the season. He was elevated to the active roster in October, playing in one game and being inactive for four others until Drew Davis was fully healthy. Martino finished the 2014 season on the Falcons’ practice squad.