The Atlanta Falcons announced a bevy of roster moves today, including placing three players on injured reserve: center Joe Hawley, offensive tackle Lamar Holmes and safety William Moore. All three players suffered injuries in Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, with Hawley and Holmes exiting the game in the third quarter with knee and foot injuries, respectively. Both players will miss the remainder of the 2014 season. Moore injured his shoulder in the first quarter and will be placed on the Falcons’ short-term injured reserve, meaning he’ll miss at least eight weeks and won’t be eligible to return to the Falcons lineup until their Week 13 game against the Arizona Cardinals. However, Moore will be eligible to return to practice after six weeks.
To replace those three players, the Falcons elevated safety Sean Baker and guard Harland Gunn from the practice squad. The team also signed ex-Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield, who was cut by that team two weeks ago. Replacing Baker and Gunn on the practice squad will be safety Kimario McFadden and guard Adam Replogle. Both players were cut by the Falcons at the end of training camp.
In Moore’s absence, it’s likely that Kemal Ishmael will start at strong safety, having filled in for Moore on Sunday. Hawley’s replacement at center is expected to be Peter Konz, while Gabe Carimi is the top option at right tackle. However, left guard Justin Blalock also exited the Vikings game early with a back injury and his status for the Falcons Week 5 contest against the New York Giants is currently unknown. Carimi could instead start at left guard and backup Ryan Schraeder would then likely be the team’s top option at right tackle.
Bradfield was originally an undrafted free agent with the Jaguars in 2011. He started two games as an injury replacement as a rookie before earning the starting job at right tackle in 2012, starting 12 games that season. In 2013, he began the season as a reserve behind Luke Joeckel at right tackle, but upon Joeckel’s season-ending injury and the Jaguars decision to trade left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens, he started the final 11 games of the season at left tackle and struggled. Per premium website Pro Football Focus, Bradfield graded out as the third-worst left tackle in the league, only ahead of Holmes and Bradley Sowell of the Arizona Cardinals. He once again started this season at right tackle, but his poor play the first two games of the year led to his being released in favor of Sam Young. He’ll likely be restricted to playing only right tackle in Atlanta, where he fared much better as a Jaguar.
In addition to Bradford, reports indicated that the Falcons worked out other free-agent offensive linemen today. ESPN’s Adam Caplain reported yesterday that the Falcons were expected to work out for formerJaguar guard Uche Nwaneri this week. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported earlier today that guard/center Leroy Harris worked out for the Falcons too.
Nwaneri started seven seasons with the Jaguars, mostly at right guard, starting a total of 92 games over that span. He was cut by the Jaguars last March but went unsigned until the Dallas Cowboys scooped him up this past June. He was cut by the Cowboys at the end of training camp.
Harris spent the 2013 season with the Detroit Lions, and was inactive for the first 15 games of the season before playing some limited snaps on special teams in the team’s season finale against the Vikings. Prior to joining the Lions, Harris spent six seasons playing both guard and center for the Tennessee Titans, starting a total of 42 games over that span.
According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, the team also worked out veteran safety M.D. Jennings today. Jennings spent this past summer with the Chicago Bears, but prior to that spent three seasons with the Green Bay Packers. The past two seasons he started for the Packers at free safety, earning 26 total starts, 113 tackles, one interception returned for touchdown and a fumble return for touchdown. Per McClure, the team indicated they wanted to go with a young option at safety, hence Baker’s signing. Jennings is only 26 years old.