A look at who’s on the Falcons’ roster bubble

There are several players, including exonerated linebacker Brian Banks, fighting for spots on the active roster or on the eight-man practice squad.

The Falcons, per NFL rules, must cut their roster from 75 players to 53 by 9 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s going to be important to see how they finished up this fourth preseason game,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

Here’s a look at how the roster is shaping up before the final exhibition game:

Quarterbacks (3 on roster to begin the 2012 season)

Locks: Matt Ryan

On the bubble: Dominique Davis

Long shot: Sean Renfree

It’s not clear if Davis has showed enough to convince to convince Smith that he’s ready to get them through a game if something happens to Ryan. Don’t be surprised if the Falcons add a veteran signal-caller by Monday.

Davis has completed 23 of 43 passes for 281 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and has been sacked twice. His passer rating of 70 has him ranked 78th in the league just behind Dennis Dixon and ahead of Matt Flynn.

Running backs (5)

Locks: Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Bradie Ewing

On the bubble: Antone Smith

Long shots: Josh Vaughan, Ronnie Wingo and Patrick DiMarco

Jackson ran behind Ewing for the first time against Tennessee. Ewing was out for three weeks with an undisclosed injury after missing last season following knee surgery.

“There were some creases out there, some running lanes,” Jackson said. “We’ll continue to build off what we’ve done this (exhibition) season.”

Wide receivers (5)

Locks: Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas

On the bubble: Drew Davis, Kevin Cone and Darius Johnson

Long shots: Martell Moore and James Rodgers

Johnson has been the star of the preseason. He’s the receiver that the backup quarterbacks lock in on when he’s in the game. He came up with a 41-yard touchdown catch against Tennessee.

Tight ends (3)

Locks: Tony Gonzalez, Chase Coffman and Levine Toilolo

On the bubble: None

Long shot: Andrew Szczerba

Gonzalez caught two passes for 21 yards against Tennessee and is not expected to play against Jacksonville.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff praised Toilolo’s blocking and expects him to fill out to 275 pounds.

Offensive linemen (9)

Locks: Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Peter Konz, Garrett Reynolds and Lamar Holmes

On the bubble: Ryan Schraeder, Joe Hawley, Harland Gunn and Phillipkeith Manley

Long shots: Terren Jones, Theo Goins, Jacques McClendon and Alex Savoie

The line gave up six sacks when the Titans clearly violated the unwritten “no stunts in the exhibition season” rule.

The Falcons clearly were caught off guard and didn’t adjust.

Right tackle Lamar Holmes was responsible for two sacks and three other quarterback pressures against Ryan in 24 pass plays, according to analytics website profootballfocus.com.

Holmes should not have been singled out.

Left guard Justin Blalock was credited with two sacks and two hurries, center Peter Konz gave up a sack and one hurry and left tackle Sam Baker was responsible for two quarterback hits, one hurry and was called for holding, but the penalty was declined.

“The way that the training camp has been, we are just trying to come together,” Baker said.

Defensive linemen (10)

Locks: Osi Umenyiora, Corey Peters, Peria Jerry, Jonathan Babineaux, Kroy Biermann, Jonathan Massaquoi, Stansly Maponga and Malliciah Goodman

On the bubble: Travian Robertson and Cliff Matthews

Long shots: Micanor Regis and Neal Huynh

It looks as if Biermann has solidified the end position opposite Umenyiora with a strong showing in the Tennessee game.

Jonathan Massaquoi flashed early in the exhibition season, but has faded.

Goodman, a rookie fourth-round pick, has played 73 snaps and has four tackles. He’s also played 17 snaps on special teams, which gives him a shot to be active on game days.

Linebackers (5)

Locks: Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent, Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu

On the bubble: Stephen Nicholas and Robert James

Long shots: Pat Schiller and Brian Banks

With the play of rookie Bartu in pass coverage, the Falcons may dangle veteran linebacker Nicholas as trade bait in order to get some offensive line help.

Weatherspoon was impressed with Bartu, who played in the nickel and the dime against Tennessee. Bartu, an undrafted free agent from Texas State, forced a fumble and made four tackles in 29 defensive snaps against the Titans.

“He was giving me tips,” Weatherspoon said. “He was like ‘the running back is 8 yards back. Run game. Run game.’ He’s doing a good job.”

Defensive backs (10)

Locks: Asante Samuel, Desmond Trufant, Thomas DeCoud, William Moore, Robert McClain and Robert Alford

On the bubble: Dominique Franks, Shann Schillinger, Charles Mitchell, Zeke Motta and Kemal Ishmael

Long shots: Peyton Thompson, Jordan Mabin and Terrence Johnson

Alford was receiving some individual instruction at practice Tuesday after having such a tough time against the Titans.

Trufant appears ready to play, while Alford needs more seasoning.

Specialists (3)

Locks: P Matt Bosher, K Matt Bryant and LS Josh Harris

On the bubble: K Jeremy Shelley

Long shot: None

Shelley, who’s shown off a live leg in practice, apparently is auditioning for the other 31 teams while the Falcons get the tightness out of Bryant’s back.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X