To fill the void left from the injury to running back Antone Smith, the Atlanta Falcons announced yesterday that they had signed linebacker James Anderson. Anderson is a ninth-year veteran, having played the bulk of his career with the Carolina Panthers, but also played mostly recently with the Tennessee Titans. Smith suffered a broken leg in the fourth quarter of the Falcons’ Week 11 win over the Panther and was placed on injured reserve.
Anderson was cut by the Titans earlier this week after being released by the New England Patriots this summer. He was signed by the Titans after Week 2 to replace injured linebacker Zach Brown. Anderson appeared in seven games for the Titans, playing exclusively on special teams where he recorded five tackles.
In 2013, Anderson started every game at strong-side linebacker for the Chicago Bears, finishing the year with 102 tackles, four sacks and a fumble recovery. Prior to that he spent seven seasons with the Carolina Panthers where he played all three linebacker positions, but spent the majority of his career on the strong side. Anderson began his career as a backup, but started a total of 43 games over his final four seasons in Carolina. His best season came in 2010, where he had 126 tackles, 3.5 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles and three recoveries. For his career, Anderson has started 69 of 117 games, recorded 534 tackles, 12 sacks, three interceptions, four forced fumbles and eight recoveries. He was originally a third-round pick in 2006 out of Virginia Tech.
The team also made another roster move this week by signing defensive tackle Ricky Havili-Heimuli to their practice squad to take the place of defensive tackle Travian Robertson, who was signed off the team’s practice squad to the active roster of the Seattle Seahawks.
Havili-Heimuli was an undrafted free agent out of Oregon this past year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Havili-Heimuli spent his collegiate career as a backup, starting just three games over the course of four seasons at Oregon. He finished his career with 74 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two sacks in 51 career appearances. His best season was his senior year, where he recorded 25 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack in 12 games.
Robertson shined throughout the preseason, but failed to make the roster. Instead, he was placed on the practice squad. He was originally a seventh-round pick of the Falcons in 2012, but earned little playing time during his first two seasons with the Falcons. He appeared in only seven games and recorded four career tackles.