UPDATED DEPTH CHART: Patterson to play running back for Falcons

Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles hands off to Cordarrelle Patterson during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, at Soldier Field in Chicago. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Caption
Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles hands off to Cordarrelle Patterson during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, at Soldier Field in Chicago. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, who was drafted as a wide receiver in the first round in 2013 by the Vikings, will play running back for the Falcons.

Running back Ito Smith, who finished last season atop the depth chart, was released by the Falcons on Thursday. The team did not re-sign running back Todd Gurley, who entered last season as the starter, nor his backup, Brian Hill.

With the signing of Patterson as a 6-foot-2 and 227-pound running back, Smith, who’s 5-9 and 195 pounds, was expendable. The Falcons now have Mike Davis, Patterson, Qadree Ollison and Tony Brooks-James at the running back position. Keith Smith is the lone fullback on the roster.

Davis, who amassed more than 1,000 total yards from scrimmage with the Panthers last season, was signed to a two-year, $5.5 million contract in free agency.

“We’re not going to have Derrick Henry here,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution during an appearance on The Bow Tie Chronicles podcast in March. “So, it’s not like I think we’re going to have Derrick Henry.”

The former Alabama running back was a star for Smith, when he was the offensive coordinator of the Titans. Henry became the eighth player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season in 2020.

“Hand it off and watch him stiff-arm 15 people and go 99 (yards),” Smith said. “You’d love to have that, but that’s not reality.”

The Falcons could also add to the position in the NFL draft, which is set for April 29-May 1.

“The reality is that we’ll get multiple backs in here, and we’ll have the way we trust our schemes and the way we teach the details of it, and we’ll commit to it,” Smith said.

Patterson has been used periodically as a running back over his career. He’s rushed 167 times for 1,017 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns.

Last season with the Bears, he rushed a career-high 64 times for 232 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 21 of 25 targets for 132 yards as a receiver/running back.

Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone was with the Bears last season and is familiar with how Patterson was utilized.

Also, free safety Duron Harmon, 30, signed Thursday. He also has played some strong safety, where the Falcons have a vacancy in the starting lineup after parting ways with Keanu Neal this offseason. Before signing Harmon, the only strong safety on the roster was Jaylinn Hawkins, who played sparingly last season as a rookie.

Harmon, 30, has played in 127 games, making 45 starts, over eight NFL seasons, with the Patriots and the Lions. He has recorded 248 tackles (191 solo) with two tackles for loss and has 19 interceptions and 33 passes defensed in his career.

Harmon (6-1, 205) was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Rutgers.

Harmon started all 16 games for the Lions last season. It was his first season of starting all 16 games. He had two interceptions and 73 tackles for the Lions in 2020.

Here’s a look at the updated depth chart:

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 13 Christian Blake

LT 70 Jake Matthews

LG 73 Matt Gono, 66 Willie Wright

C 61 Matt Hennessy, 68 Josh Andrews

RG 63 Chris Lindstrom

RT 76 Kaleb McGary, 71 Willie Beavers

TE 81 Hayden Hurst, 85 Lee Smith, 87 Jaeden Graham, 80 Ryan Becker

WR 83 Russell Gage, 16 Greg Dortch

WR 18 Calvin Ridley

QB 2 Matt Ryan

HB 28 Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, 30 Qadree Ollison, 26 Tony Brooks-James

FB 40 Keith Smith

DEFENSE

DE 55 Steven Means, 91 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 90 Marlon Davidson, 94 Deadrin Senat

DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 99 Jonathan Bullard, 50 John Cominsky, 79 Chris Slayton

DE 56 Dante Fowler

OLB 51 Brandon Copeland

LB 45 Deion Jones, 46 Edmond Robinson

LB 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 43 Mykal Walker

OLB 52 Barkevious Mingo

RCB 20 Kendall Sheffield, 22 Fabian Moreau, 29 Chris Williamson

LCB 24 A.J. Terrell, 44 Tyler Hall

NCB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 42 Delrick Abrams

FS 23 Erik Harris, 39 T.J. Green

SS 21 Duron Harmon, 32 Jaylinn Hawkins

SPECIALISTS

K 7 Younghoe Koo, 1 Elliott Fry

P 4 Sterling Hofrichter, 9 Dom Maggio

LS 47 Josh Harris

KO 7 Younghoe Koo

KR Cordarelle Patterson, 14 Chris Rowland

PR 14 Chris Rowland

Falcons’ 2021 draft position: Here are the top 10 picks in D. Led’s Mock Draft 4.0:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, (QB, BYU)

3. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)

4. Atlanta Falcons: Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)

6. Miami Dolphins: Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)

7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)

8. Carolina Panthers: Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)

9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)

10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain (CB, Alabama)

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