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Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Cover 9@9: Falcons should add help for defense at trading deadline 

Joseph or Bucannon could help at strong safety 

The Falcons normally are not active at the trade deadline, but with the onslaught of injuries, that needs to change this season.

The NFL trading deadline is set for 4 p.m. Tuesday and there could be unprecedented movement.

The Cowboys have already traded with the Raiders for wide receiver Amari Cooper. 

Former Falcons executive David Caldwell, who’s currently the Jaguars general manager, acquired running back Carlos Hyde from the Browns.

The Saints helped their shaky secondary by acquiring cornerback Eli Apple from the Giants. 

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Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson and Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas are also reportedly on the trading block.

But the Falcons need help along the offensive line, which has struggled to open holes this season even before Brandon Fusco was lost for the season with a broken ankle. 

“We’ve got work to do there still,” Quinn said of the run blocking. “We have got to find ways to get running backs Tevin (Coleman) and Ito (Smith) more space. We are going to continue to work really hard at that.”

Also, the Falcons could used some help on defense. 

In the past, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and team-builder/coach Quinn have been reluctant to mortgage a small part of the future at the trading deadline.

But now that the team has climbed back onto the fringes of the NFC playoff race, they should be primed to help this injury-ravaged team.

The Falcons don’t need to waste the fine season that quarterback Matt Ryan is putting together. Quinn is confident that the team will continue to improve, but there is no replacement for adding a piece or two along the way. 

“There is a lot of improvement that we can make,” Quinn said. “Over the last few years in the second halves of the year, because of our push on fundamentals we improve and I expect that to happen again this year.” 

The Falcons should gave the Raiders a call since they are essentially having a fire sale. Safety Karl Joseph and cornerback Gareon Conley could help the secondary that was hit hard by Giants receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (143 yards) and Sterling Shepard (167 yards).

The Falcons have had the most difficult time replacing strong safety Keanu Neal. His physical presence is missing. Damontae Kazee is doing a fine job at free safety and linebackers Duke Riley, Foye Oluokun and De’Vondre Campbell are doing a credible job splitting up Deion Jones’ duties. 

The Falcons are  hoping to get Jones back. The earliest he could return is the Dallas game on Nov. 18. “He’s making terrific progress,” Quinn said. 

But Jordan Richards has had a tough time at strong safety. Sharrod Neasman played 40 snaps to Richard’s 24 against the Giants.

Joseph was the selected with the 14th pick of the 2016 draft and Neal was selected 17th. Joseph has fallen out of favor under the Jon Gruden regime. 

Joseph has barely played this season after recording 138 tackles and two interceptions in his first two seasons. 

Here’s part of the NFL.Com scouting report on Joseph when he was coming out of West Virginia: “True high/low option with toughness for the box and straight line speed to play rangy center field. Can pedal and shift from deep zone. Wolf looking for his next meal as a hitter.”

Love the part about him being a wolf stalking his prey. 

The Falcons should also call the Cardinals and inquire about linebacker/safety Deone Bucannon and edge rusher Haason Reddick. Bucannon can play the in-the-box safety role and perhaps help the run defense.  

Reddick, who was heavily scouted by the Falcons coming out of Temple, was the 17th overall pick in 2017. He’s has only 4.5 sacks and has fallen out of favor under new coach Steve Wilks. 

The Falcons have already addressed the offensive line, but took the bottom-feeder approach snapping up a player off a team’s practice squad and re-signing one of their former draft picks. 

The Falcons are set to sign offensive guard Rees Odhiambo off the Colts practice squad, according to NFL Media. 

Odhiambo, who is 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, was selected out of Boise State in the third round of the 2016 draft Seattle. He played in 15 games and made seven starts at left tackle for the Seahawks. 

The Falcons are thin at guard after right guard Brandon Fusco was loss for the season with a broken foot. 

Odhiambo was waived by Seattle on Sept. 2 and signed by the Colts to their practice squad on Sept. 24. 

The Falcons also waived guard Zac Kerin and signed former fourth round draft pick Sean Harlow to the practice squad.

The Falcons also waived former Alabama center J.C Hassenauer from the practice squad.

Harlow, a college tackle from Oregon State, was on the 53-man roster for 2017, but was inactive for all 16 games. He was cut in September and spent some time with the Colts before getting cut on Oct. 18. 

The Falcons at least need to make some calls about the defensive players, who could possibly help make a legitimate playoff push.

Deone Bucannon at the Senior Bowl in 2014. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com) (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Atlanta Falcons blog: Atlanta football news)

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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