June 13, 2017, Flowery Branch: Falcons linebackers LaRoy Reynolds (left) and Deion Jones finish the first day of mini-camp on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A closer look at the Falcons’ 53-man roster 

After first cutting the roster, the Falcons spent Sunday adding players to their practice squad.

However, two of the players cut by the Falcons were claimed on waivers. Green Bay claimed defensive end Chris Odom and the Cleveland Browns claimed wide receiver Reggie Davis, the former Georgia standout who sparkled during the exhibition season. Also, the Kansas City Chiefs added released defensive back Akeem King to their practice squad.

The Falcons can re-stock the practice squad with 10 players plus their international exemption player, tight end Alex Gray. Linebacker J’Terius Jones and defensive tackle Joe Vellano have been signed to practice-squad deals, according to their agents.  

In addition to Jones and Vellano, the Falcons added running back Jhurell Presley, wide receivers Marvin Hall and Deante Burton, tight end Josh Perkins, tackle Daniel Brunskill, defensive tackle Taniela Tupou and safety Marcelis Branch to their practice squad, according to reports. 

In retooling the roster, most of the work was done on defense as the Falcons only had to replace two starters on offense. 

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Falcons coach Dan Quinn believes that you must have at least 15 to 16 starting level players on defense and he likes the versatility of the roster. 

“Whatever way the offense wants to play, you better be equipped to play it,” Quinn said. “If they play big boy ball, you have to be ready to play that. If they want to play four-wide receiver sets, the empty sets, you better be ready for that, too.”

With the Falcons, the defending NFC champs, set to open the season against the Chicago Bears at 1 p.m. Sunday at Soldier Field, here’s a closer look at the 53-man roster: 

QUARTERBACKS (2) 

The majority of the teams in the league are now carrying just two quarterbacks. Look for the Falcons to add a quarterback to the practice squad.

On roster: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub

RUNNING BACKS (5) 

The Falcons elected to keep both Ward and Hill. Both played well on special teams and that helped them earn their roster spots. Hill is still learning how to attack the line of scrimmage in the Falcons’ outside-zone running scheme, but he showed enough promise to be retained. 

On roster: Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Brian Hill and Terron Ward. Fullback Derrick Coleman.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6) 

Davis had a great camp as he caught eight passes for 126 yards, including a 44-yarder. Marvin Hall also had a strong camp. But the Falcons elected to keep Nick Williams over Davis and Hall. 

On the roster: Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Andre Roberts, Justin Hardy and Nick Williams.

TIGHT ENDS (3) 

Second-year man Austin Hooper is set to take over the starting spot. The Falcons like Eric Saubert as a developmental prospect and kept him over Joshua Perkins.

On the roster: Hooper, Levine Toilolo and Eric Saubert.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9) 

Quinn saidit is possible that you will see Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer playing. Perhaps he’s going to have messenger guards like Paul Brown back in the old days. 

The Falcons traded for Ty Sambrailo, a former second-round pick to provide depth at tackle. 

On the roster: Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder (tackles); Andy Levitre, Garland, Schweitzer and Sean Harlow (guards); Alex Mack (center), Austin Pasztor (tackle), Ty Sambrailo (tackle).

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8) 

The Falcons were surprised when defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman was suspended for his role in a March 2016 domestic violence case. The case had lingered for a while and now the league has investigated. Courtney Upshaw will likely pick up more snaps in Hageman’s absence.

On the roster: Tackles: Grady Jarrett, Dontari Poe and Jack Crawford, (tackles); Ends: Derrick Shelby, Brooks Reed, Adrian Clayborn, Courtney Upshaw and Takkarist McKinley.

LINEBACKERS (7) 

LaRoy Reynolds has a chest injury. The speedy Jermaine Grace made the roster as an undrafted rookie free agent. 

On the roster: Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Duke Riley, Kemal Ishmael, LaRoy Reynolds and Jermaine Grace. 

CORNERBACKS (6) 

The Falcons are looking for a fourth cornerback to replace Jalen Collins, who was suspended for 10 games. C.J. Goodwin has been the steadiest of the group, followed by Deji Olatoye. Blidi Wreh-Wilson made a strong push in the final exhibition game. 

On the roster: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Brian Poole, C.J. Goodwin and Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Deji Olatoye. 

 SAFETIES (4) 

The Falcons are counting on Keanu Neal making a big step forward in his second year in the league. 

The depth at this position is strong. Kazee is coming back from an ankle injury and Neasman had a strong exhibition season.

On the roster: Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee and Sharrod Neasman.

SPECIALISTS (3) 

The Falcons stayed with punter Matt Bosher, kicker Matt Bryant and long snapper Josh Harris. However, they were impressed with kicker Mike Meyer, before waiving him. He might resurface in Tampa Bay.

 On the roster: Bryant, Bosher and Harris.


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