Yates, Grossman released as Falcons cut down to 67

Falcons released quarterbacks T.J. Yates and Rex Grossman on Friday and appear set to enter the season with Sean Renfree as Matt Ryan’s backup.

Renfree was 10-of-15 passing for 75 yards and one touchdown in the exhibition finale against Baltimore on Thursday. He had a passer rating of 100.7. Yates’ last action was against Miami, and he completed 18 of 28 passes for 187 yards and had a passer rating of 83.5.

In addition to Yates and Grossman, the Falcons waived safety Sean Baker, linebacker Terrell Manning, offensive tackle Jake Rodgers, guard Jared Smith, cornerback Kevin White and defensive end Cliff Matthews. The moves leaves the team with 67 players. They must cut down to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday.

While Falcons coach Dan Quinn savored the 20-19 victory over the Ravens, he knew the toughest part of his job was right around the corner.

Quinn, who’s in charge of the roster under the team’s new restructured front office, has to makes the roster moves. He seemed a bit conflicted and emotional because the Falcons played hard for him and went through some grueling practices in 90-degree heat.

“There were just some guys that completely battled,” Quinn said after Thursday’s game. “Not just tonight, but the whole (exhibition) season and there’s a lot of gratitude (for) … how hard they were willing to go for it.”

Also, Quinn has to make a difficult decision with linebacker Brooks Reed, who recently had groin surgery and could miss up to six weeks. Quinn could keep the team’s major free-agent signee on the roster or could use the one-time short-term injured-reserve slot, which would make Reed unavailable for six weeks.

In that case, Reed could begin practicing after six weeks, but couldn’t play until he was on the list for eight weeks. If placed on short-term injured reserve, his first game would be against San Francisco on Nov. 8.

It also will be interesting to see how the Falcons handle a couple of other veterans. Center Joe Hawley is coming off knee surgery and did not start the final two exhibition games.

“(He is) still right there in the mix of the competition, right at the center of it, literally,” Quinn said. “For him, it was good to see him battle through some stuff tonight.”

Right guard Jon Asamoah, who didn’t play against the Ravens because of hip injury, lost his spot on the first-team to Chris Chester.

The Falcons wanted to take a look at the prospects competing for the backup linebacker spots.

“(Derek) Akunne was one and (Nate) Stupar and (Allen) Bradford,” Quinn said. “It was important for us to get a better look at all the unique things they can bring, and not just on special teams, but on the defensive end as well.”

The Falcons also looked at the safety position. Strong safety William Moore, who missed the two previous games with a calf injury, returned and played 18 snaps from scrimmage and two on special teams.

“At safety we’re still digging in there, and (Charles) Godfrey has been part of it where he was going with William and (Kemal Ishmael),” Quinn said.

The tight end position got a close look, too. Tight end Tony Moeaki (ankle) didn’t play, and Jacob Tamme left the game with a back injury.

“(D.J.) Tialavea was another one we were trying to get another look at,” Quinn said. “He got some turns as well (against the Ravens).”

Wide receivers Carlton Mitchell and Nick Williams also had strong games in their longshot bids to make the final roster.

Dezmen Southward, a former third-round pick, had a fumble recovery and a big hit to help his case.