The Atlanta Falcons announced several roster moves today including placing wide receiver Devin Hester on short-term injured reserve while also re-signing safety Charles Godfrey and tight end Tony Moeaki to the roster. To make room for the latter, the team also released tight end Mickey Shuler, who was signed a week ago. Godfrey was cut by the Falcons after the first week of the season to make room for offensive tackle Jake Long, while Moeaki was part of the team’s final cutdowns to 53 players.
Hester has been dealing with turf toe this year, and at the start of the season was optimistic that he would only miss one or two weeks. After returning to practice last week opening hopes that he would suit up this week, the Falcons are shutting him down for the next eight weeks by placing him on the reserve list. The short-term I.R. is technically called the injured reserve-designated to return list, which allows NFL teams to place one player per season upon it. There was talk at the start of September that linebacker Brooks Reed would be put on the list, but he was able to return to action ahead of schedule last week against the Houston Texans. On the short-term I.R., Hester will be eligible to return to practice in six weeks, but will be forced to sit out the next eight weeks, meaning his first potential action of the year won’t be until Week 13 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in December.
In his absence the Falcons have replaced him on kickoff and punt returns with wide receiver Eric Weems. Through the first month of the season, Weems is averaging 22 and 11.4 yards per return on kickoff and punts respectively.
Godfrey’s addition is likely an indicator that free safety Ricardo Allen may miss more time with an MCL sprain that kept him out of action against the Texans last week. Godfrey, 29, was with the Falcons during preseason and spent time as a reserve at both free and strong safety, although played predominantly at the latter spot. He gives the Falcons a veteran presence behind rookie Robenson Therezie, who replaced Allen in Week Four. Godfrey has 75 career starts under his belt.
Moeaki fills depth at tight end where Jacob Tamme missed last week’s game with a concussion. Moeaki is a superior blocker to Shuler, but was surprisingly released by the Falcons at the start of the season after working as Tamme’s primary backup for most of the summer. Moeaki suffered an ankle injury in the preseason finale and his time off during the first month likely was to allow him to recover from that injury.
In Tamme’s absence, Levine Toilolo got the start at tight end and likely will continue to get that work should Tamme miss more time. However, Moeaki gives the team a much improved presence in the running game given Toilolo’s struggles there against the Texans.