Quinn faces some tough decisions as cut-down looms

After the Falcons face the Dolphins on Saturday, the team must cut down the roster from 90 to 75 players by Tuesday at 4 p.m.

“That will be something that (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) and I will address with the team as we go forward,” Quinn said. “We really just want the focus to be about the game. I know that there are guys who are on that (bubble).”

Quinn, who’s in his first-year as a head coach, believes discussing the cuts publicly would be a distraction.

“Sometimes you start thinking about the cuts and we start worrying about the wrong stuff,” Quinn said. “That’s out of their control, so I don’t really want to bring it up.”

Here is a position-by-position look at how the roster is shaping up:

QUARTERBACKS

Matt Ryan has been sharp working in the new offense.

The battle remains for who will back him up. The team signed Rex Grossman on Wednesday. T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree both are coming off poor showings last weekend against the Jets.

“We’d like to see the accuracy improve and the decision-making,” Quinn said of Yates. “For Sean, just more time in the offense, more urgency at the line of scrimmage.”

Lock: Ryan. Bubble: Grossman, Yates and Renfree

RUNNING BACKS

Prized rookie third-round pick Tevin Coleman is expected to make his debut against the Dolphins.

Coleman and Devonta Freeman, the contenders for the top spot, have been out with hamstring injuries.

Locks: Coleman, Freeman, Antone Smith. Bubble: Terron Ward, Jerome Smith and Michael Ford.

FULLBACKS

Both fullbacks have played well over the first two exhibition games, particularly in catching the ball. The better lead-blocker will likely make the team.

Lock: None. Bubble: Patrick DiMarco and Collin Mooney.

WIDE RECEIVERS

After Julio Jones and Roddy White, Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester and Justin Hardy all have had strong exhibition seasons.

Nick Williams, a cast-off from Washington, is making a strong roster bid. The Falcons also have special-teams standout Eric Weems to consider.

“I don’t think about it,” said Williams of the impending cuts. “It’s out of my control. All I can do is go out there and play as hard as I can.”

Locks: Jones, White, Hankerson, Hardy, Hester. Bubble: Marquez Clark, Carlton Mitchell, John Harris, Bernard Reedy, Weems and Williams.

TIGHT ENDS

The Falcons signed Jacob Tamme and Tony Moeaki this offseason.

Locks: Tamme, Moeaki, Levine Toilolo. Bubble: Mickey Shuler and D.J. Tialavea

OFFENSIVE LINE

Quinn said the team is still evaluating the center and left guard positions, where Joe Hawley and James Stone have started.

The odd man out so far has been Jon Asamoah, who started last season at right guard. He played 43 snaps in the exhibition game against the Jets.

“You think of how stout and strong Jon is inside as a pass protector,” Quinn said. “He’s got a lot there. It’s still wide open in some spots in terms of the competition.”

Locks: Jake Matthews, Ryan Schraeder, Chris Chester, Hawley, Stone, Asamoah. Bubble: Tyler Polumbus, Matt Huffer, Eric Lefeld, Lamar Holmes, Mike Person, Peter Konz, Adam Replogle, Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, Jared Smith, Jake Rodgers and Pierce Burton.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

The Falcons have been pleased with the development of rookie Vic Beasley and a slimmer Tyson Jackson has been getting off the ball faster.

Adrian Clayborn, who will rush from tackle in the nickel defense, has also been strong rushing the passer.

Locks: Beasley, Jackson, Clayborn and Kroy Biermann. Bubble: Malliciah Goodman, Stansly Maponga, Cliff Matthews and Sam Meredith.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

What was once a team weakness now looks like a strength with Paul Soliai, Jonathan Babineaux and Ra’Shede Hageman.

Locks: Hageman, Babineaux and Soliai. Bubble: Grady Jarrett, Warren Herring, Joey Mbu and Derrick Hopkins.

LINEBACKERS

Paul Worrilow, who will again call the signals this season, will be flanked by strongside linebacker Brooks Reed and weakside linebacker Justin Durant in a revamped unit.

Allen Bradford is a quality reserve.

Locks: Durant, Reed, Worrilow, Bradford and O’Brien Schofield. Bubble: Joplo Bartu, Derek Akunne, Nate Stupar, Terrell Manning, Tyler Starr and Boris Anyama.

CORNERBACKS

The Falcons are not alarmed by second-round pick Jalen Collins’ play, which has been shaky over two exhibition games.

They factor some missed time in the offseason after foot surgery and that he is coming along.

The position opposite Desmond Trufant is still up for grabs, Quinn said.

Locks: Trufant, Collins, Robert Alford, Phillip Adams. Bubble: Kevin White, Jonathon Mincy, Travis Howard, Dezmen Southward, Akeem King and Mike Lee.

SAFETIES

Ricardo Allen, a former cornerback, looks comfortable at free safety. Kemal Ishmael is getting some action while William Moore is out with a calf injury.

Locks: Allen and Moore. Bubble: Sean Baker, Robenson Therezie, Ishmael and Charles Godfrey.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The key players will remain the same in kicker Matt Bryant, punter Matt Bosher and return specialist Hester.

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