Falcons set to cut down to 53-man roster

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith have started the process of trimming the roster down from 80 players to 53 before their 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday.

The Falcons’ former regime made their cuts in stages, releasing the easier decisions and then leaving the players on the bubble for decisions closer to the deadline.

“We’ll talk about that as a staff,” Smith said. “We have a plan.”

The Falcons have some difficult decisions to make along the offensive line, the backfield and secondary. It appears that Matt Hennessy, Josh Andrews and Kaleb McGary won the jobs at center, left guard and right tackle. However, the Falcons can elect to upgrade by claiming players off waivers or by making a deal.

Rookie running back Caleb Huntley had a strong camp, but was it enough to move past veterans Qadree Ollison and D’Onta Foreman.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Rookie center guard Drew Dalman, who was pushed back five yards by Cleveland’s Malik McDowell does not appear ready to play. Also, Jalen Mayfield, a third round pick, is also developing.

Backup tackles Jason Spriggs and Willie Beavers were trying to land the swing tackle spot, while Mike Gono is on the physically unable to perform list.

The Falcons also have a decision to make at backup quarterback between Josh Rosen, Feleipe Franks or plucking a released quarterback off the waiver wire.

“We played obviously the last game of the (exhibition) season, so we’re not going to go out there and practice (Monday),” Smith said. These guys need to recover.”

With no practice, the Falcons can make some of their decisions on Monday, but may not release them until the deadline.

“So, we’ll bring (the 53-man roster) in here on Tuesday,” Smith said. “We can adjust. Had a little bit of a short roster, but that’s fine. There is also a bye week, too. We will practice three days and they’re going to have off, which they deserve and that’s part of the deal. So off Friday, Saturday (and) Sunday.”

The initial 53-man roster will remain fluid for the Falcons, who have the fourth spot on the waiver wire after going 4-12 last season.

Here’s a position-by-position look at how the Falcons will cut to 53 players for the start of the season:

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Lock: Matt Ryan. Long shots: Feleipe Franks and Josh Rosen. (Team expected to claim a QB off waivers)

RUNNING BACKS (5/6)

Locks: Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Keith Smith. On the bubble: Qadree Ollison, D’Onta Foreman and Caleb Huntley.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6/7)

Locks: Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus. On the bubble: Christian Blake, Tajae Sharpe, Chris Rowland and Frank Darby. Long shots: Juwan Green, Antonio Nunn and Trevor Davis.

TIGHT ENDS (3/4)

Locks: Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst and Lee Smith. On the bubble: John Raine. Long shot: David Wells and Parker Hesse.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9/10)

Locks: Jake Matthews, Kaleb McGary, Chris Lindstrom, Matt Hennessey, Josh Andrews, Jaylen Mayfield and Drew Dalman. On the bubble: Josh Spriggs, Willie Beavers. Long shots: Kion Smith, Sam Jones, Ryan Neuzil and Joe Sculthorpe.

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7/8)

Locks: Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Tyeler Davison and Jonathan Bullard. On the bubble: Ta’Quon Graham and John Cominsky. Long shot: Chris Slayton, Eli Ankou and Zac Dawe.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (6/7)

Locks: Dante Fowler, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Steven Means, Brandon Copeland and Adetokunbo Ogundeji. Long shots: Tuzar Skipper and Kobe Jones.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5/6)

Locks: Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun, Mykal Walker, Brandon Copeland (can play inside and outside). On the bubble: Dorian Etheridge, Emmanuel Ellerbee and Erroll Thompson.

CORNERBACKS (5/6)

Locks: A.J. Terrell, Fabian Moreau, Chris Williamson and Avery Williams. On the bubble: Isaiah Oliver, Darren Hall and Kendall Sheffield. Long shots: Delrick Abrams.

SAFETIES (4/5)

Locks: Duron Harmon, Erik Harris, Richie Grant, Jaylinn Hawkins. On the bubble: Dwayne Johnson. Long shots: T.J. Green (spent some time at corner) and JR Pace.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Locks: K - Younghoe Koo, P – Dom Maggio, LS - Josh Harris. On the bubble: Cameron Nizialek

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