Falcons promote Gray, Rowland and Pinkney to game-day roster

081920 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons tight ends Luke Stocker (from left), Jared Pinkney, and Hayden Hurst take the field for training camp on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 in Flowery Branch.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
081920 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons tight ends Luke Stocker (from left), Jared Pinkney, and Hayden Hurst take the field for training camp on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Falcons wide receivers Devin Gray and Chris Rowland were promoted to the roster for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game at Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Also, tight end Jared Pinkney, who played at Norcross High and Vanderbilt, was promoted to the roster as a COVID-19 replacement.

Gray, who played at Cincinnati, was signed after the 2018 draft and has spent time on the practice squad in the past three seasons. This would be his first regular-season appearance.

Rowland made his NFL debut last week serving as the team’s punt returner.

Pinkney has spent the season on the Falcons’ practice squad. He also would be making his NFL regular-season debut.

» Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt: Pinkney, who is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, was on the John Mackey award and Fred Biletnikoff award watch lists last season after a stellar junior season. He started 11 games last season and had 20 receptions for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He had a season-high five catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over East Tennessee State. In his junior season, playing with quarterback Kyle Shurmur, he had 50 catches for 774 yards and seven touchdowns. The 50 catches were the most by a Vanderbilt tight end since 1984. He helped Norcross win back-to-back Georgia state titles before signing with the Commodores. He could become an NFL starter, but will have to work on his blocking first. Pinkney’s stock dropped in the draft after a poor showing at the NFL scouting combine. Not having a chance to redeem himself at Vandy’s Pro Day also was a factor. At the combine, he ran the slowest 40-yard dash time (4.96) of the tight end group. He looked stiff and struggled to catch passes.

» Chris Rowland, WR, Tennessee State: Rowland, who’s 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, was the 2019 Black College Football Player of the Year and received his award during the Black College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Atlanta on Feb. 15. Rowland, who’ll have chance to make the team as a returner, set a Historically Black College and University record with 104 receptions this past season, eclipsing the mark of 103 set by Jerry Rice in 1984. Rowland was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team as a wide receiver and return specialist and was the offensive player of the year. He was the only Division I player to score a touchdown on a kick return, punt return, reception and rushing attempt. He also played in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl after leading the FCS in receiving yards per game (119.8).

Falcons’ 2021 draft position

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

2. New York Jets

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)

4. Falcons

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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