I’ve gone through this twice before, once before camp started and once midway through camp. But now the final roster cuts are upon us, and I’m going to pick the 53 players I think will be Falcons on opening day.
Starter: Matt Ryan
Backups: Chris Redman, John Parker Wilson
This is a no-brainer.
Starters: Michael Turner, Ovie Mughelli
Backups: Jason Snelling, Jerious Norwood, and FREE AGENT
I think the Falcons will keep five running backs, with the fifth filling the same slot that Aaron Stecker filled last year. But I don’t think Antone Smith or Dimitri Nance have played at a high enough level to earn that role. So I think the Falcons will sign someone. Dan Klecko is a good special teams player and his versatility can be an asset, but he’s not a good enough blocker from what I’ve seen this summer to merit keeping around.
Starters: Roddy White, Michael Jenkins
Backups: Harry Douglas, Brian Finneran, Eric Weems, Troy Bergeron
I think the injury to Jenkins will make the Falcons keep six receivers to start the season. I think Bergeron has done the most to earn that sixth spot, but it would not surprise me one bit if the Falcons sought a veteran receiver to fill this spot.
Starter: Tony Gonzalez
Backups: Justin Peelle, MIchael Palmer
I wasn’t sure if Palmer has done enough as a blocker to merit taking Zinger’s spot. And I still don’t think that’s the case. But I think his ability as a receiver will trump that and the Falcons will try to develop him on the roster instead of the practice squad.
Starters: Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Todd McClure, Harvey Dahl
Backups: Will Svitek, Joe Hawley, Brett Romberg, Mike Johnson
I think the Falcons will keep nine because there really isn’t a lot of reason to keep more than that. I think Jose Valdez has performed well, but keeping ten linemen doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you are plagued by injuries in your starting lineup.
Starters: Jamaal Anderson, Peria Jerry, Jonathan Babineaux, John Abraham
Backups: Lawrence Sidbury, Kroy Biermann, Corey Peters, Vance Walker, Chauncey Davis
Like last year, I think the Falcons keep nine defensive linemen. Although I think the player on the shakiest ground is Vance Walker, who hasn’t really progressed too much this summer from what I’ve seen. So there’s a chance the Falcons pick up a veteran player to fill that spot.
Starters: Sean Weatherspoon, Curtis Lofton, Mike Peterson
Backups: Stephen Nicholas, Coy Wire, Spencer Adkins
Because of injuries elsewhere, and the fact that Weatherspoon, Peterson, and Wire can play multiple positions, the Falcons can afford to only keep six linebackers. Weatherspoon has the starting position which he’s held all summer long.
Starters: Dunta Robinson, Brent Grimes, Thomas DeCoud, Erik Coleman
Backups: Chris Owens, Chevis Jackson, Dominique Franks, William Moore, Shann Schillinger
The spot I’m not sure about is Jackson. I think Williams age and the fact that he doesn’t look completely healthy right now means that Jackson gets the nod. But I think this is another area where the Falcons may dump Jackson and bring in someone new to be the 4th/5th cornerback alongside Franks. It’s really a position where the main value is special teams.
Matt Bryant, Michael Koenen, Joe Zelenka
No surprises here. I think Bryant makes it, but wouldn’t be surprised to here the Falcons working out other kickers this week just to see what else is out there.
RB Antone Smith
WR Ryan Wolfe
OT Jose Valdez
DE Emmanuel Stephens
LB Bear Woods
S Rafael Bush
I think the Falcons will keep either Smith or Nance on the practice squad, and based off what I’ve seen this summer, I think Smith gets the nod. Wolfe gets the nod at wide receiver, mainly because Brandyn Harvey didn’t have such a great game last night. Valdez has been solid at tackle. Stephens has shown a lot of quickness off the edge throughout the preseason. Bear Woods is awesome. Bush gets the nod because of his ability to contribute on special teams. That leaves two slots open which I think the Falcons will scour the waiver wire for two other players, probably a defensive tackle and defensive back.