Cover 9@9: Will the Falcons be active at the trade deadline?

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

1. The no-spin zone: The NFL’s trade deadline of Nov. 1 is fast approaching, and the Falcons are tied for first place in the NFC South.

With the injuries in the secondary and at running back, could the Falcons be players at the trade deadline? The Falcons could try to fortify their roster.

Cornerback Casey Hayward (shoulder) joined running backs Cordarrelle Patterson and Damien Williams on injured reserve Tuesday.

“I think everybody – those guys talk all the time,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said of the league’s general managers. “That’s pretty common. If the opportunity is right, great.”

Smith doesn’t sound like the Falcons will be proactive at the deadline.

“Somebody gives you an offer you can’t refuse, deal with Don Corleone, then you listen, but it just depends on what situation shows up, but those guys, I think it’s pretty standard operating procedure,” Smith said.

The Falcons already have made a trade. They sent former Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones to Cleveland on Oct. 9. The Falcons sent Jones and a seventh-round pick in 2024 to the Browns for their 2024 sixth-round pick.

The Browns were looking for a replacement for Anthony Walker, who was lost to a season-ending injury.

Hayward, a two-time Pro Bowl player, is a big loss for the Falcons. Second-year corner Darren Hall may be ready to take over.

“Those GMs, they all call and check in no matter what,” Smith said.

The Falcons probably will look at the veteran corner market. While the Falcons’ backup running backs have performed well, there are several running backs available, from the Rams’ Cam Akers to the Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey.

The price has to be right for the Falcons.

“Everybody’s looking for a deal, whether it’s for now, for short term or for long term,” Smith said. “Again, the guys that are leaky, they leak them out to you guys for whatever incentive. Some of it is nonsense. Some of it is real. That’s my opinion on it.”

In addition to Akers and McCaffrey, Browns running back Kareem Hunt and Raiders running back Josh Jacobs could be 2022 rentals before they hit free agency.

Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, Bears linebacker Roquan Smith, the former Georgia standout, and Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay all could be moved by the deadline.

2. Injured reserve: Defensive tackle Marlon Davidson (knee), left guard Jalen Mayfield (back), tight end John FitzPatrick (undisclosed) and Williams (ribs) remain on injured reserve.

Also, Patterson (knee) has two more weeks, while long snapper Beau Brinkley (Achilles) and defensive lineman Vincent Taylor (Achilles) also are on injured reserve.

“I don’t have any updates,” Smith said as to who could return this week. “We’ll see.”

3. Bengals have rebounded: The Bengals stumbled to start the season as they lost to the Steelers (23-20) and the Cowboys (20-17). They have since defeated the Jets (27-12) and Dolphins (27-15), lost to the Ravens (19-17) and beat the Saints (30-26) last week.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, a former Ohio State and LSU star, has completed 152 of 228 passes for 1,616 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a passer rating of 95.6.

Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins combined to catch 19 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Saints. Chase got loose for 132 yards, which included an electrifying 60-yard catch-and run.

4. Passing-game matchup: The Falcons’ pass defense gives up 267.7 yards per game, which ranks 28th in the league. The Bengals have the eighth-ranked passing offense, which produces 248.7 yards per game.

The Falcons will play without Hayward, who sustained a shoulder injury against the 49ers. Cornerbacks A.J. Terrell (hamstring) and Isaiah Oliver (undisclosed) also missed time against the 49ers.

“It doesn’t really change anything,” safety Jaylinn Hawkins said. “All of my guys recover fast. I can’t speak on their situations, but we also have other people in the room who can play. Who are also ready to go.”

With Hayward, Terrell and Oliver out against the 49ers late in the game, Dee Alford, Mike Ford and Darren Hall played the cornerback spots.

“As a whole and as a unit, we really prep hard,” Hawkins said. “Not just certain individuals. We all together prep hard.”

The Falcons believe Hall is ready to step in for Hayward.

“He’s done a lot,” Hawkins said. “He comes to practice every day with his hard hat on. … He’s a great player. ... D. Hall is a baller. He’s always on top of his game.”

5. Bengals’ offensive line still shaky: The Bengals attempted to improve their offensive line over the offseason but still have given up 22 sacks.

“I know what the (sack) numbers have been for Cincinnati, but they’ve been pretty (darn) good offensively regardless of it,” Smith said. “I think there was something I saw the other day about Joe Burrow talking about how sacks can be misleading on the other side.”

The Falcons’ pass rush has eight sacks, which is tied for 31st in the league.

“So, we know it’s a challenge,” Smith said. “This passing game is pretty (darn) good. So, we have our work cut out for us. It’s still early. Time to come up with a plan.”

6. Cincinnati Saints: Smith certainly will talk with general manager Terry Fontenot about the Bengals’ defensive personnel. Three of their starters were with the Saints while Fontenot was in their front office.

Bengals safety Vonn Bell was drafted in the second round in the 2016 draft by the Saints. Cornerback Eli Apple signed with the Saints in 2018, and defensive end Trey Hendrickson was drafted in the third round by the Saints in 2017.

Bell leads the Bengals with 25 solo tackles and three interceptions. Hendrickson leads the Bengals in sacks with 2.5.

“There are a lot of guys over there,” Smith said. “Yeah, we talk all day, every day, and we have a great football staff.”

7. Hayden Hurst playing well: In addition to the Saints connections, the Falcons will see Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst, who signed with them in free agency after playing two seasons (2020-21) with the Falcons.

In addition to Chase, Boyd and Higgins, Hurst has been productive. He’s caught 23 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He’s on pace to surpass his career high for receptions, which was 56 in 2020 with the Falcons.

8. Tale of the tape: The Falcons, who have the third-ranked rushing offense in the league, are set to face the Bengals, who have the 21st-ranked run defense, at 1 p.m. Sunday at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

Here’s a look at the key rankings for the Falcons and Bengals:

Falcons Bengals

24.3 (8) Pts/Game 23 (15)

324.3 (23) Tot Off. 337.7 (20)

165.2 (3) Net Rush Yds/Game 89.0 (27)

159.2 (30) Net Pass Yds/Game 248.7 (8)

29:58 (19) Poss Avg. 32:19 (3)

22.7 (14) Opp Pts/Game 19.2 (10)

385.2 (26) Opp Tot Off. 339 (14)

104.0 (9) Opp Rush Yds/Game 121 (21)

267.7 (28) Opp Pass Yds/Game 218 (14)

+2 (7) Turnover Differential 0 (17)

9. Depth chart: Hayward, who sustained a shoulder injury Sunday in the fourth quarter of a 28-14 win over the 49ers, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

Hall is listed as the new starter at right cornerback. Alford is listed as the second-string right cornerback.

The Falcons signed tight end MyCole Pruitt from the practice squad to take Hayward’s roster spot.

The Falcons signed defensive lineman Jalen Dalton and inside linebacker Dorian Etheridge to the practice squad. Both are former Falcons who were injured during the exhibition season.

The Falcons released Kobe Smith from the practice squad. Here’s a look at the depth chart:

OFFENSE

QB – Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder

RB – Tyler Allgeier, Caleb Huntley, Avery Williams

FB – Keith Smith

WR – Drake London, Bryan Edwards, Jared Bernhardt

TE – Kyle Pitts, Parker Hesse, Anthony Firkser, MyCole Pruitt, Feleipe Franks

LT – Jake Matthews, Chuma Edoga

LG – Elijah Wilkinson, Colby Gossett

C – Drew Dalman, Matt Hennessy

RG – Chris Lindstrom, Colby Gossett

RT – Kaleb McGary, Germain Ifedi

WR – Olamide Zaccheaus, KhaDarel Hodge, Damiere Byrd

DEFENSE

OLB – Lorenzo Carter, DeAngelo Malone

DE – Grady Jarrett, Timothy Horne

NT – Abdullah Anderson, Timothy Horne

DE – Ta’Quon Graham, Matt Dickerson

OLB – Ade Ogundeji, Arnold Ebiketie, Quinton Bell

ILB – Rashaan Evans, Nick Kwiatkoski

ILB – Mykal Walker, Troy Andersen, Nathan Landman

CB – A.J. Terrell, Isaiah Oliver, Mike Ford

FS – Jaylinn Hawkins, Dean Marlowe

SS – Richie Grant, Erik Harris

CB – Darren Hall, Dee Alford

SPECIAL TEAMS

K – Younghoe Koo

P/H – Bradley Pinion

LS – Liam McCullough

KR – Avery Williams