FLOWERY BRANCH — Defensive end Ray Edwards, barring any last minute change, will make his debut with the Falcons against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday.
“Right now, we are anticipating that Ray will be going this week,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith after practice on Wednesday. “We’re going to get our first snaps with him. In terms of the number of snaps, we’ll wait and see if there are any set backs from today’s practice, but I doubt that. We look forward to seeing him out on the field.”
Edwards, the team’s prized free agent signee, has recovered from knee surgery.
Edwards, a former Minnesota Viking, signed a five-year contract, worth $30 million, with $11 million guaranteed on July 29.
The Falcons hope that Edwards will balance the field and provide a pass rush opposite Pro Bowler John Abraham.
Abraham led the Falcons with 13 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries last season. Kroy Biermann started at left end and had three sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
Edwards, 6-foot-5, 268 pounds, was a fourth-round draft pick (127th overall) by the Vikings in 2006. The former Purdue standout amassed 29 sacks in five seasons. He had eight sacks last season and a career-high 8.5 in 2009.
The Falcons were interested in Edwards after the draft, but they later cooled on him and pursued Carolina’s Charles Johnson. The Falcons backed out of the bidding on Johnson after the Panthers made him a lucrative offer.
In addition to Abraham, Edwards and Biermann, the Falcons also have Chauncey Davis, Lawrence Sidbury, Cliff Matthews, Emmanuel Stephens and Tom McCarthy on the roster.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog