Falcons reserve cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson has carved out a niche in the team’s secondary.
After three seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Wreh-Wilson was scooped up by the Falcons at the end of the 2016 season and has re-signed one-year contracts ever since. His 2020 deal pays him $1.050 million.
“That’s part of this game,” Wreh-Wilson said. “You play on a one-year deal, you’re going to have to prove yourself, (earn) your spot every year.”
After the Falcons let cornerback Desmond Trufant leave in free agency, they drafted A.J. Terrell, re-signed Wreh-Wilson and then scooped up Darqueze Dennard, once training camp started.
“There is a lot of competition in the DB room,” Wreh-Wilson said. “We have a lot of guys who’ve played a lot of football.”
Last season, Wreh-Wilson played in a career-high 14 games and made two starts. He had seven pass breakups.
“For me, I know what I bring,” Wreh-Wilson said. “I know who I am. I know what I can do for this team. Every time that I step on the field, I’m representing this Brotherhood and trying to put my best foot forward. But I also know at the same time I’m representing myself and my skill-set can carry me. And I know this.”
The Falcons have a new secondary coach in Joe Whitt, but the team still values Wreh-Wilson.
“He’s certainly a trusted member here,” head coach Quinn said. “We’ve added some nickel back to what he can do. He’s played a little bit of safety for us in a pinch. We line him up mostly outside. But the versatility for a guy like that is huge for the team. When you’re called upon, you have got to be able to deliver. Blidi is somebody that can deliver for sure.”
Wreh-Wilson, a big corner at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, played 13 games as a rookie with with the Titans in 2013. He started 11 games in 2014 and played in 10 games and made three starts in 2015. In a regime general manager (Jon Robinson) and head coaching (Mike Mularkey) change, Wreh-Wilson was cut in August of 2016. The Falcons signed him in Nov. 2016.
He’s won over the coaching staff by staying ready and playing well when called upon. His versatility is valuable and the new buzz word around the NFL is “player flexibility.”
“I’d say my size for a corner,” Wreh-Wilson said. “I have a good IQ. I understand sets well and I see motions and things before they happen. It just allows to be a step ahead on plays. For me, it’s just knowing what the whole secondary is supposed to do, where the linebackers or supposed to be. If you know the whole picture you can kind of fit yourself into whatever spot that they need you.”
Wreh-Wilson believes the training camp portion of the offseason went well.
“Getting up to speed without the whole offseason, doing everything virtually, right now we’ve just been pushing each other to try and be the best group that we can be,” he said. “I see myself as a veteran that can provide depth. Someone that you can count on. You can just have me in the game if something happens and a guy who’s going to go after the ball every play.”
Quinn likes the depth in the secondary.
“I think number one from Darqueze, he has the ability to play both (nickel and outside),” Quinn said. “We’ve featured him more inside and that was one of the visions that we had in getting him here. We are trying to get that role really clear and come to life. Then Kendall (Sheffield) has experience at both. We worked inside a little bit last week. In this four-day block, we’ll work him more outside this week.”
The Falcons, in search of more player flexibility, will continue to move players around this week.
“This is the time to keep working the versatility of people,” Quinn said. “We’ll have a couple of other guys play some different spots as well. You don’t want to have to do that during the game weeks, but now you are looking for that extra versatility and who can do more and test them a little bit as we are going through these practices.”
Wreh-Wilson said the Falcons have continued to stress communications in the secondary. Last season, the team had too many blown coverages while on their way to a 1-7 start.
“Raheem and Joe have been pushing us to be a very talkative, chirpy, left nickel, right nickel,…so you know what’s going on two or three steps before you even see the motion,” Wreh-Wilson said. “Just be a very chatting defense. That’s something that Joe has especially harped on for us….I feel that is not going to be a problem.”
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