Falcons keep depth at quarterback position

FLOWERY BRANCH — Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson will continue to get their practice snaps with the Falcons’ scout team. That’s the life of a backup quarterback in the NFL.

As this season has shown — see the Texans, Bears and Chiefs of late — Redman and Wilson are one play away from taking over at a critical point in the season. With an injury to starter Matt Ryan, one of the reserves would be counted on in the middle of a push for the playoffs.

“Unfortunately, this time of the year, there’s going to be injuries,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “As I said, it’s a battle of attrition when you start getting into this fourth quarter [of the season], and there’s going to be a lot of guys that maybe you didn’t expect were going to be playing at the beginning of the season that are going to have opportunities to play, just like we had the situation last week in our secondary. Some guys had to step up and step in.

“You test your depth when you get into this part of the season.”

Ryan has been extremely durable. He has missed two plays this season, briefly sidelined against the Lions in October. In his fourth season, he has missed two games, that in 2009 with a turf-toe injury.

The Falcons are coming off a loss to the Texans and quarterback T.J. Yates, who was third on the depth chart the first 10 weeks of the season. Season-ending injuries in back-to-back weeks to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart forced Yates into action. The Bears are starting Caleb Hanie after losing Jay Cutler, and the Chiefs are playing with Tyler Palko after losing Matt Cassel.

“I act like it’s going to happen every game,” Redman said. “I try to mentally picture in every game that you’re going to have to come in and win this thing, before the game starts and throughout the game, no matter what the situation is. It’s a lot of thinking, imagining stuff and how you are going to react, try to make reads that Matt’s doing out there.

“It’s tough, but you have to be ready when it’s your time.”

Redman has completed 162 of 275 passes for 1,880 yards in his five seasons with the Falcons, including four starts in 2007. He is in the final year of his contract.

Wilson has not appeared in a regular-season game in his four seasons. He was signed to the practice squad before this season as the Falcons elected to keep two quarterbacks on the active roster. The Vikings wanted to sign Wilson after they released veteran Donovan McNabb last week. The Falcons promptly signed Wilson to the active roster Dec. 2, and he elected to stay in Atlanta.

“I think with everything that went on, we wanted to stay here in Atlanta,” Wilson said. “We didn’t want to go anywhere else. I feel like I could be here a long time and be a part of this organization. That’s the long-term plan.”

Smith said signing Wilson to the active roster was “a move that we felt like that we had to make.”

Wilson has another year on the two-year contract he signed before the season. He expects to have to compete for a job — perhaps the No. 2 spot — next season.

As was with the case of Yates, Wilson knows that just because he is third on the depth chart doesn’t mean he’s strictly a clipboard holder.

“Just like the whole year, I was preparing like I would be practice squad or no practice squad,” Wilson said. “I’m going to take the same mindset going into it, just in case something ever happened I would know all my stuff and be ready to go.

“Especially in this league with how big and fast the defensive guys are. You have to be ready. You’ve got to know your stuff.”