The Falcons announced seventeen cuts today as they work their way to the league-mandated 53-man roster by 6 pm tomorrow. Most prominent among those moves were the team’s decision to cut veterans defensive end Chauncey Davis and linebacker Coy Wire.
The other players cut were: TE Marquez Branson, FB Lucas Cox, OC Paul Fenaroli, S Matt Hansen, WR Brandyn Harvey, RB Gartrell Johnson, DT Trey Lewis, DE Tom McCarthy, CB Kamaal McIlwain, OC Ryan McMahon, CB Rafael Priest, DT Kiante Tripp, S Suaesi Tuimaunei, and LB Bear Woods. The team reached an injury settlement with WR Andy Strickland as well.
The Falcons will still need to make ten more moves before Saturday’s deadline.
Davis was the longest-tenured Falcon among those players cut. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, and served as a valuable role player, appearing in every game since then. Over six seasons with the team, Davis started 26 games, recorded 174 tackles, 10 sacks, scored 2 touchdowns, blocked 2 field goals, and recovered 10 fumbles. Davis was due a base salary of $3.75 million this year, which likely played heavily in the team’s decision to cut him as they also have to get under the $120 million salary cap.
Wire joined the Falcons in 2008 after six years with the Buffalo Bills where he played both safety and linebacker. As a full-time linebacker for the Falcons, he added valuable depth at all three positions and performed well on special teams. He started 4 games in 2008 and had 19 tackles that year. He also combined for 32 tackles on special teams in the past three years.
Well, here is the prediction for who will make the Final 53 as teams have until Saturday afternoon to make those decisions. Only one player from my previously mentioned locks won’t make the team, due to the Falcons roster moves earlier this week.
Wilson’s poor performance vs. the Ravens I think might have gotten him cut, especially given the injury issues the Falcons have on their lines.
Despite a strong performance last night against the Ravens, I don’t see either Antone Smith making the roster, but he remains eligible for the practice squad. Injuries on both lines I think will prevent the Falcons from carrying a fifth running back in Week 1. But once those units get healthy, do not be surprised if you see them pick up someone later in September.
Brandyn Harvey showed enough to potentially make the roster, but the Falcons don’t appear able to afford a sixth receiver when they have other injury issues elsewhere.
Tonight against the Ravens in the preseason finale, here are five players you should keep your eyes on:
1. OC Joe Hawley
Hawley is set to start the regular season as the team’s starting center. While he may not get a ton of reps tonight as Mike Smith is expected to pull the starters fairly early, whatever reps he does earns will be important. He needs to have a good performance in order to inspire confidence that he can handle the starting position. Fortunately for Hawley, he won’t have to deal with Haloti Ngata tonight, as the Ravens plan to rest many of their key defensive starters.
2. OG Mike Johnson
The battle for the right guard position is not quite over, and Johnson should get ample opportunity to showcase his talents to night. He is in a position that a strong performance against the Ravens beefy 3-4 front could propel him past Reynolds, like a thief in the night.
3. MLB Akeem Dent
Dent has been limited somewhat by injuries this preseason and has yet to earn extensive minutes on regular defense. Tonight should be his opportunity with the Falcons starters only expected to make brief appearances. He should get at least a quarter or two of reps in the middle. With the Falcons strong depth at linebacker, this may be the last time we get an opportunity to see Dent play in 2011.
4. DT Trey Lewis
While the severity of Corey Peters injury has yet to be revealed, if he is set to miss the season opener, the Falcons will likely be forced to keep at least one extra defensive tackle on the roster. That spot would likely be Lewis’s to lose. Although the team might be better off turning to the waiver wire this weekend to fill any void here. Lewis has been unimpressive the past two years when he has gotten on the field, and hasn’t really turned heads this preseason. He needs a strong performance against the Ravens, or his Falcon and NFL career may be over soon.
5. RB Gartrell Johnson/Antone Smith
If the Falcons intend to keep a fifth back on the roster, neither Johnson or Smith have shown much this preseason to make either a strong candidate for that spot. Tonight’s game may be their last opportunity to definitively show the Falcons brass that they deserve a roster spot, rather than simply earning one by default. Johnson at this point is probably the front runner, but the gap between the two isn’t wide enough where Smith can’t overcome it.
The NFL instituted a new rule that teams will be allowed to activate 46 players on gamedays instead of the traditional 45 players. As such, I think through two preseason contests the Falcons have pretty much found 46 players that assuming there are no injuries to them, are virtual locks to make this year’s roster. That leaves 7 remaining spots that are still in contention that will have to be earned through these final two preseason games.
Here is my list of 46 that are locks to make the roster. These are guys that I feel will not be cut before the season starts. If they aren’t on the final roster it will be because they are on the injured reserve or some other reserve list. Here are the offensive players:
QB – Ryan, Redman, Wilson
RB – Turner, Mughelli, Snelling, Rodgers,
WR – Jones, White, Douglas, Meier, Weems
TE – Gonzalez, Palmer
OT – Baker, Clabo, Svitek
OG – Blalock, Reynolds, Johnson
OC – McClure, Hawley
Now for the defense:
Categories: Features Adkins, Andrew Jackson, Chauncey Davis, Cliff Matthews, Harvey, James, Lewis, roster, Sidbury, Valdez, Walker, Woods
Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards and guard Mike Johnson returned to practice on Sunday, although neither qualified as a full participant. Edwards practiced in pads for the first time since joining the Falcons on July 29. Johnson is expected to participate fully in practice beginning tomorrow according to Jay Adams of Atlanta Falcons.com. Johnson has been out of practice since Sunday, August 6, when he suffered a concussion. Both Edwards and Johnson missed Friday’s night preseason opener against the Dolphins.
Two other players that missed the Dolphin game: tight end Marquez Branson and defensive tackle Vance Walker are expected to return to practice Monday according to Knox Bardeen of CBS Sports.
Starting defensive tackle Corey Peters was injured during practice today, and was carted off the field with a left leg injury according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC. There has not yet been an update on the extent of his injury.
The team also announced that Akeem Dent, Justin Peelle, and John Parker Wilson are likely going to be out for Friday night’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wilson suffered a concussion during the Dolphin game in the third quarter. Dent and Peelle also played, but had limited snaps. Trey Lewis returned to practice today after injuring his arm against the Dolphins.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons have claimed defensive tackle Carlton Powell off waivers. Powell was waived by the New York Jets on Thursday. Powell has bounced around the league the past few seasons after being a 5th round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2008 out of Virginia Tech.
The Falcons may be addressing their depth at defensive tackle. An ankle injury kept Vance Walker out of the team’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins. Also during the game, Trey Lewis left with an arm injury.
Powell tore his Achilles heel just prior to his initial training camp with Denver and was cut the following summer after sitting out his rookie season. He spent part of the 2009 season on the practice squads of the Broncos and Cleveland Browns before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2010′s training camp. He was ultimately cut by the Bucs before landing with the Jets after the season.
Here is a scouting report on Powell that appeared in this site’s 2008 draft guide:
Pros: Has good size, strength, and quickness. Does a good job penetrating and shooting gaps in order to make plays in the backfield. Shows a nice initial burst and has a decent spin move to shed blockers. Has a nice motor.
Cons: Doesn’t wow you with his size, strength, or quickness. Only an adequate run stopper that shows little interest in it. Doesn’t maintain gap discipline, and can be taken out of a play.
Overview: He’s a one-dimensional player that right now only seems interested in getting penetration.
NFL Forecast: Has the potential to get better as a run stopper, but he’s going to need a coach to get after him to do that. If that happens, then I like his chances. Otherwise, I see him developing into a journeyman after a few years, who teams pick up because he’s a veteran guy with experience, but not because they really want him on their team. Would fit in nicely for a team like the Colts who have a roster full of guys that only care about pass rushing. I think he’ll make a good backup and doesn’t really have the upside to be anything more than a marginal starter as a 3-technique tackle.
Value: A fifth round pick that improves depth mostly.
I’m not sure how regular this will be as the season unfolds, but I’ll try to do one each week if I can. Since this is the first game of the season, I really don’t have any excuses not to do it. But I’m going to be looking at the different matchups that I like and don’t like as the Falcons prepare for the Steelers.
Matchups I Like
Dennis Dixon vs. the Falcons defense
I know many Falcon fans were worried about the possibility of Dixon starting this week instead of Byron Leftwich. They’d rather face the statue of Leftwich rather than the mobile Dixon.
I’m not too worried. Dixon will likely be able to make some plays with his legs, but his accuracy and decision making are the biggest areas of concerns for the Steelers offense. He has only had limited work with the first team offense, so he isn’t likely to be on the same page with most of his receivers. He is only making his second NFL start, so he will also be prone to making a lot of rookie mistakes. How he recognizes defense, how he sees the field, and whether he can make good decisions and put the ball on the money with accuracy to his receivers must be a major concern for the Steelers brass, otherwise they would not have been so reluctant to start him.
The Falcons will likely look to confine him to the pocket where he is going to be less dangerous. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and Erik Coleman will likely be a big reason why if the Falcons are able to take advantage, sitting back and reading Dixon’s eyes and breaking plays on the ball. The hallmark of young quarterbacks is a tendency to stare down his targets, which allows defensive backs, especially safeties a greater opportunity to jump routes and break up plays.
Steelers Right OL vs. Falcons Left DL
This matchup features rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, right guard Trai Essex, and right tackle Flozell Adams versus the Falcons left side of their line which will feature mainly Kroy Biermann at left end, Peria Jerry at left tackle, and Jamaal Anderson splitting time at both spots.
We’re halfway through the preseason and training camp has finally wrapped up. I wanted to look at the final roster prediction that I made at the start of camp to see if there were any revisions that I wanted to make.
And there aren’t a lot.
QB: This spot remains unchanged with Ryan, Redman, and Wilson locking up spots.
RB: I am not as confident with my prediction of Antone Smith, because I think he and Dimitri Nance overall have been relatively even. However, I am tending to lean towards the Falcons signing a veteran running back off the waiver wires come the end of this month rather than going with either of the youngsters. I do think the Falcons will keep a fourth running back because of the injuries woes of Jerious Norwood. I just am less sure it will be someone currently on this roster, and instead Smith or Nance will wind up on the practice squad. And I don’t think Klecko has shown enough to stick as an extra fullback.
WR: At wide receiver, Meier is out for the year with injury. And because of the injury to Jenkins, I still think the team will keep six wideouts. I think Bergeron is the front runner for that sixth and final roster spot, although again, I do think the Falcons will be paying attention to which players are cut next week in case a veteran becomes available.
Peria Jerry injured
The team announced today that they have placed first round pick Peria Jerry on injured reserve, ending his season. Jerry was carried off the field on Sunday after injuring his left knee. The team signed seventh round pick Vance Walker off the practice squad to help fill depth at defensive tackle.
Jerry had started the first two games of the season and recorded one tackle in his debut against the Dolphins. Injuries aren’t new with Jerry, who was plagued with injuries during his time at Ole Miss. He also suffered a knee injury during minicamp this summer and was limited at times leading up to the season.
The Falcons will likely also call upon Trey Lewis to help fill the void, who was inactive for the first two games of the season. Thomas Johnson, who has been working in rotation with both Jerry and fellow starter Jonathan Babineaux, likely could fill in as the starter.
J. Michael Moore of AtlantaFalcons.com reports that middle linebacker Curtis Lofton returned to practice today. Lofton has been held out of practice since the first day of training camp due to a hamstring injury.
Per the report, all players on the roster practice today except running back Jason Snelling, who suffered a bit hit from Jamaal Fudge on Friday’s scrimmage. The Falcons welcomed back Roddy White for his first day of practice due to his holdout, as well as defensive tackle Trey Lewis who missed a few days last week.