Falcons add rookie A.J. Terrell to COVID-19 list

Blidi Wreh-Wilson likely to be pressed into duty

Rookie starting cornerback A.J. Terrell, the team’s first-round draft pick, was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday.

This is a major loss to the defense as the Falcons (0-2) are set to face the Chicago Bears (2-0) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Falcons promoted linebacker Edmond Robinson from the practice squad to the active roster as a COVID-19 replacement. The Falcons also promoted cornerbacks Delrick Abrams and Tyler Hall from the practice squad to the active roster for the Chicago game.

The Falcons are not permitted to comment on a player’s medical status other than referring to roster status. Clubs may not disclose whether the player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID-19.

Terrell becomes the eighth member of the team placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Safety Jamal Carter, fullback Keith Smith, safety Chris Cooper, rookie safety Jaylinn Hawkins, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, quarterback Danny Etling and linebacker Foye Oluokun all served stints on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Etling has since been released.

Terrell, who was taken with the 13th pick in the NFL draft out of Clemson, started the first two games of the season.

Terrell, who played at Westlake High, played all 82 of the defensive snaps in the 40-39 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. He also played all 62 snaps (100%) in the 38-25 loss to Seattle the Sunday before.

He had six tackles in the Seattle game and five tackles and one quarterback hit in the Dallas game.

Losing Terrell is a major blow to the Falcons' already shaky secondary. With Terrell playing as the left cornerback, the Falcons are giving 372 passing yards per game, which is ranked 31st of 32 teams in the league.

With Kendall Sheffield (foot) out for the game, the next cornerback on the depth chart is veteran Blidi-Wreh Wilson, who has started at left cornerback in the past.

After three seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Wreh-Wilson was scooped up by the Falcons at the end of the 2016 season and has re-signed one-year contracts ever since. His 2020 deal pays him $1.050 million.

After the Falcons let cornerback Desmond Trufant leave in free agency, they drafted Terrell, re-signed Wreh-Wilson and then added Darqueze Dennard, once training camp started. Dennard has been playing nickel back, while Isaiah Oliver has played right cornerback.

Last season, Wreh-Wilson played in a career-high 14 games and made two starts. He had seven pass breakups.

Wreh-Wilson, a big corner at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, played 13 games as a rookie with the Titans in 2013. He started 11 games in 2014 and played in 10 games and made three starts in 2015. In a regime change after the departure of general manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Mularkey, Wreh-Wilson was cut in August 2016. The Falcons signed him in November 2016.

He won over the coaching staff by staying ready and playing well when called upon. His versatility is valuable and the new buzz word around the NFL is “player flexibility.”

Dennard has played outside in the past when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“We are a very talented defense,” Dennard said. “We have a lot of depth, which a lot of teams don’t have. I’ve been on teams that haven’t had a lot of depth and this team does. I think, what our mindset is, next man up.”

The pass defense gave up seven pass plays of 20 yards or more against Dallas, including a 58-yard pass play. They gave up four pass plays of 20 yards or more in the Seattle loss.

“I’m here to do whatever to help the team win,” Dennard said. “If it’s only playing inside, I’m playing inside. If something happens and I have to go outside. I’ll go outside. I’m here to add on to this great defense and contribute to us getting to the championship.”

In addition to losing Terrell, the Falcons likely will be without several starters because of injury.

Wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) and defensive end Dante Fowler (ankle) will be game-time decisions.

Jones, Fowler, linebacker Foye Oluokun (hamstring), right tackle Kaleb McGary (knee) and defensive end Takk McKinley (groin) were all listed as questionable to play.

Sheffield and safety Ricardo Allen (elbow) were declared out on Friday.

The Bears feature third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who played better against man-to-man defense. With Terrell out, the Falcons will likely be forced to play more zone coverages.

The Bears top wide receiver is Allen Robinson. Their No. 2 receiver, Anthony Miller has struggled with dropped passes.

According to the new collective bargaining agreement, a team can carry up to 55 players on its roster entering a game -- up from 53 in past years -- by elevating one or two players from its practice squad before 4 p.m. on the day before that team’s game. Any player elevated from the practice squad for this purpose will immediately revert to his team’s practice squad on the day after the game.

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