Falcons’ Timothy Horne, Dee Alford battling for roster spots

FLOWERY BRANCH — Defensive tackle Timothy Horne and cornerback Dee Alford are making strong bids to make the Falcons’ initial 53-man roster.

Both must continue to perform as the Falcons are set to have four joint practices and play two exhibition games over the next 10 days.

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Horne, an undrafted rookie free agent from Kansas State, was the unsung hero of the 27-23 win over the Lions on Friday.

Horne, an agile 6-foot-5 and 321-pounder, split the left guard and the center with a swim move and recovered a David Blough fumble with two minutes to play. The turnover led to the game-winning 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Desmond Ridder to wide receiver Jared Bernhardt.

Alford, who spent time at nickel back with the first-team defense Thursday, had an interception against the Lions.

Horne was excited about his big fumble recovery.

“All night it just seemed like there were different tendencies with what the offense was doing,” Horne said. “I knew I had him beat. I just swim-moved over him, saw the ball on the ground and went ahead and picked it up.”

Horne played 29 defensive snaps (37%) against the Lions and finished with two tackles. The Falcons need help along the defensive line, and Horne has been flashing.

“Every day is a new day, just an opportunity to put your best foot forward,” said Horne, who is from Wadesboro, N.C. “Every day you’re trying to make a first impression. Just go in and do your best. Do all that you can so that you don’t have any regrets. Make sure that you learn from your mistakes.”

Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett pointed out Horne’s swim-move after the game.

“It was a great feeling,” Horne said. “It was great to enjoy it with my teammates. To have fun at the end of the game because we came out with the win.”

Horne doesn’t plan to rest on his big play.

“That’s important,” Horne said. “You can’t get too high. You can’t get too low. Each day, it’s like a job interview. You want to put your best foot forward.”

Horne started his career at Charlotte and made 29 starts over 43 games before transferring to Kansas State.

Alford, who played at Spalding High, had an interception against the Lions.

“Obviously, you guys see the splash plays, but his approach to the job is a very serious-minded approach,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said of Alford. “He came up a different route, went to Tusculum, went to the CFL. He signed a contract with us.”

Alford signed a reserves/futures contract in January.

“Since he signed that contract, all he’s done is work, whether it’s here and obviously he’s done stuff away from the building, too,” Smith said. “I appreciate his approach, and you’re seeing some of his hard work pay off for him.”

Horne and Alford are example of players stacking up good practice days.

“Well, it’s consistent, and they start to add up,” Smith said. “A guy may make a splash play. It’s really a sack, and the quarterback tries to extend it in practice and throws it up and you blow the whistle, and he throws it late, and the guy ends up catching it, but he’s making real plays, and obviously he made one in Detroit.”

Alford had a nice deep-pass breakup at the open practice Monday.

“Again, he’s not perfect, but I appreciate his approach,” Smith said. “That’s what you like to have; you like to have good competition across the board.”

Alford has been trying to impress the Falcons with his work ethic.

“I’m one of those guys who works so hard,” Alford said. “It was a great feeling to get out in front of your fans, families and teammates and make plays when they come your way.”

Alford was an all-star in the Canadian Football League.

Alford is a former Winnipeg Blue Bomber who played at Tusculum from 2016-19. He helped the Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup last season.

“Basically, I look at it as the same every day,” Alford said. “I come to practice, put my head down and work hard. I want to show them that I’m capable of being a playmaker for this organization.”

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