The Atlanta Falcons announced today that they waived former 2013 seventh-round safety Zeke Motta. Motta had suffered a fractured neck late in his rookie season, then missed all of 2014 due to the injury. His release likely prompts the end of his short NFL career.
The Falcons selected Motta with their penultimate pick in the 2013 draft, the second of three seventh-round selections. Motta quickly earned a reserve with the Falcons and even replaced starting free safety Thomas DeCoud for the bulk of two games late in the year, due to the latter’s concussion. Motta in fact suffered the fracture of his C1 vertebrae against the Green Bay Packers in Week 14 while replacing DeCoud, but managed to start the following week against the Washington Redskins. The following week, his neck injury flared up again and the Falcons placed him on injured reserve. In 10 appearances as a rookie, Motta made 12 tackles, one pass deflection and had four tackles on special teams.
Motta had surgery on his neck in late December 2013, but the timetable for his return went from six weeks to indefinite when he did not recover as quickly as doctors hoped. Motta missed all of the Falcons’ offseason activities and was placed on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform list at the outset of training camp. He would go on the regular-season version of that same list at the start of 2014 and miss the entire year.
Motta goes the way of a string other former Falcons draft selections that suffered significant injuries during their rookie seasons and never were able to effectively recover including: Trey Lewis (2007), Thomas Brown (2008), Peria Jerry (2009), Kerry Meier (2010), Andrew Jackson (2011) and Bradie Ewing (2012). Linebacker Marquis Spruill, who the Falcons selected in the fifth round of 2014, hopes to end the streak after suffering a torn ACL during his first training camp.