Fullback Keith Smith, a converted linebacker, was used to help paved the way with his lead-blocking for running back Ezekiel Elliott when he played for the Cowboys from 2014 to 2017. (Associated Press/James D. Smith)

Falcons sign fullback Keith Smith 

Team reaches injury settlement with Ricky Ortiz 

The Falcons also released fullback Ricky Ortiz, who reached an injury settlement with the team.

Smith, 27, is 6-foot and 240 pounds. He played with the Raiders in 2018 after spending four seasons with the Cowboys from 2014-17.

The Falcons were interested in Smith before he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“It felt amazing,” Smith said Monday. “I didn’t really know what the future was going to hold for me, but God had a plan. Atlanta it is. Once I heard, I was excited. I knew what this team and organization has to offer, and I’m just ready to help contribute.”

Smith was seen walking off the field with running back Devonta Freeman after practice. He plans to be available if the Falcons need him in the season opener against Minnesota at 1 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

“It should be quick,” Smith said. “I’m going to put in the work because that’s what it’s all about. I’m trying to be available this week to play. I’m going to be on it after hours, putting in the mental grind to make sure that I’m out there to help the team get this W this week.”

Smith, who played at San Jose State, has played in 63 games and with seven starts.

Smith is a converted linebacker who mostly was used as a lead blocker for running back Ezekiel Elliott during his time with the Cowboys. 

Smith has only three carries for 5 yards and has caught 13 passes for 69 yards. 

“In our system, you have to have the quickness to get out of your stance and get to the second level (and block) safeties and linebackers,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He’s done a good job. He was a college linebacker…He made the transfer over. He always had the ran-and-hit factor.”

The Falcons plan to use Smith on offense and special teams.

In addition to signing Smith, the Falcons signed wide receiver Brandon Powell and safety Jamal Carter to the practice squad. The Falcons now have nine players on the practice squad and one opening.

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