Chauncey Davis' streak comes to an end

After playing in 96 straight regular-season games, the dependable and steady defensive end Chauncey Davis was released by the Falcons on Friday.

Davis, linebacker Coy Wire and defensive tackle Trey Lewis were the most notable veterans released. Also, 14 other players were waived. The Falcons must cut 10 more players to get to the mandatory roster limit of 53 players by 4 p.m. Saturday.

The team also waived tight end Marquez Branson, fullback Lucas Cox, center Paul Fenaroli, safety Matt Hansen, wide receiver Brandyn Harvey, running back Gartrell Johnson, defensive end Tom McCarthy, cornerback Kamaal McIlwain, center Ryan McMahon, safety Rafael Priest, defensive end Kiante Tripp, safety Suaesi Tuimaunei and linebacker Bear Woods. The Falcons also reached an injury settlement with wide receiver Andy Strickland.

Davis, who played at Florida State, was selected by the Falcons in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. Over his streak, Davis also made 25 starts. He had 10 career sacks, two interceptions and a touchdown.

Wire served as the team’s alternate player representative during the lockout and helped organize their offseason conditioning program. He’s a nine-year veteran who spent the past three seasons with the Falcons. He was a major contributor on special teams.

Lewis was a sixth-round pick in 2007 and had a promising rookie season. He played in nine games and made five starts before suffering a knee injury. He missed all of the 2008 season and played sparingly over the past two seasons.

Taking a risk

The Falcons took a calculated medical risk in signing cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who because of a neck injury was having trouble passing some team’s physical exams. Before signing with the Falcons, he had visited seven or eight teams, including Kansas City, Carolina, Chicago, Minnesota and Washington.

The Falcons, have taken calculated medical risks in the past on Wire and Kevin Mathis, who both had neck injuries. The Falcons were comfortable with Hayden’s neck because there is new imaging technology that can better analyze those injuries.

Hayden missed the last four games of the 2010 season with a neck injury. It is not known how many of the teams did not pass him on his physical

“My neck is fine,” Hayden said. “It’s something that everybody was questioning. ... I want to show that I can still play.”

Hayden has not played in all 16 games of a season since the 2007 season. In 2009, he missed seven games with a hamstring injury. In 2008, he missed six games with a knee injury.

“You can’t look back,” Hayden said. “All I’m thinking about is this season. Hopefully, I’ll be out there for the whole 16 and even [three] or [four] for the playoffs.”

Crowd at safety

Safety James Sanders was happy to reunite with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who had twice tried to pry him away from the Patriots.

After he was hired by the Falcons, Dimitroff tried to get Sanders for the 2008 season, but Sanders had another year remaining on his contract. The Falcons signed Erik Coleman instead.

In 2009, when Sanders was on the market, the Falcons were tied to Coleman and had just drafted William Moore in the second round.

This time, when Sanders was unexpectedly released by the Patriots, the parties were able to strike a deal.

“It feels very good to be reunited with the person who drafted you and originally got you into this league,” Sanders said. “I feel great about this opportunity. I’m excited to come here and go to work.”

Sanders has played strong and free safety. He will compete for time against returning starters Thomas DeCoud and Moore.

“In professional football, you have to welcome it,” DeCoud said of a player being added at his position. “It’s only going to make us better as a team and me better as a player. It’s only going to be a good thing for us as a team, for us as a whole.”

DeCoud has started 33 consecutive games over the past two seasons. Moore started 15 games last season.

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