Falcons call up Kurt Benkert as third quarterback

081520 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Kurt Benkert completes a pass with Matt Ryan looking on during training camp on Saturday, August 15, 2020 in Flowery Branch.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
081520 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Kurt Benkert completes a pass with Matt Ryan looking on during training camp on Saturday, August 15, 2020 in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Quarterback Kurt Benkert was designated a COVID-19 flex to the active roster Saturday for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

It’s the first time this season that Benkert has been called up to the active roster for a game, but the Falcons have used one of their practice-squad protections for him eight times this season. He was not protected this week as the Falcons elected to protect tight end Jared Pinkney.

Benkert, who played at East Carolina and Virginia, has been with the Falcons since signing as an undrafted free agent after the 2018 draft.

Neither Matt Ryan nor Matt Schaub were listed on the injury report. Benkert will be slotted in as the third quarterback on the game-day depth chart.

Benkert received a hefty $60,000 signing bonus in 2018. The largest bonus for an undrafted player in 2019 was $15,000, so the Falcons liked him as a prospect.

In the 2018 exhibition season, Benkert completed 28 of 64 passes (43.9%) for 347 yards and no touchdowns. He threw four interceptions and had a minuscule quarterback rating of 35.1.

In 2019, Benkert suffered a major toe injury in the Hall of Fame game and missed the season.

Benkert completed 19 of 34 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown and was injured in the fourth quarter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibition game against Denver.

There was no exhibition season in 2020.

Falcons’ next four games

Falcons at Saints at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22

Raiders at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29

Saints at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6

Falcons at Chargers at 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13

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