Atlanta Falcons: Here’s a look at who’s on the bubble

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith will get to see their new rookies at minicamp, May 11 through 13. (AP Photo/Paul Abell)

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith will get to see their new rookies at minicamp, May 11 through 13. (AP Photo/Paul Abell)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Mike Smith has no intentions of being a dream killer when delivering news to a player that his services are no longer needed.

He walks that fine line of being truthful, direct and still uplifting when telling players they are being released.

Several players are set to play in the last game of their football careers when the Falcons (1-2) close out the exhibition season at Jacksonville (2-1) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at EverBank Field.

After returning to Atlanta, the Falcons must trim their roster from 75 players to 53 by 9 p.m. Friday night.

Smith, who’s in his fifth year as head coach, meets with each player to share the news.

“You have to be very direct with the guys on the field,” Smith said.

Most starters are not expected to play against the Jaguars, so the players on the bubble will get one final chance to impress the coaches. Smith stresses that other teams in the league might be interested in their services.

“They are not only being evaluated by our coaching staff, but they are being evaluated by 31 other teams in the league,” Smith said. “The personnel staff spent a lot of time in this preseason evaluating players. So, if they don’t have an opportunity here, their performance on the field is being evaluated by someone else.”

The Falcons will likely start releasing players early Friday. In the past under Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons have not pushed their decisions up to the deadline.

“It is just a tough time of the year when you have to go down from 90 to 75 and from 75 down to 53,” Smith said. “It’s part of the business. It’s something that you have to deliver and it’s something that you have to be honest with the players and tell them why they are going to be on the team and why they are not going to be on the team.”

Some of the released players will have the opportunity to come back on the team’s eight-player practice squad.

051112 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons new quarterback Dominique Davis hands off on his first day of practice with the team on the start of mini-camp in Flowery Branch, Friday, May 11, 2012.   CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

051112 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons new quarterback Dominique Davis hands off on his first day of practice with the team on the start of mini-camp in Flowery Branch, Friday, May 11, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

“They are familiar with our scheme and may possibly have an opportunity to come back,” Smith said.

Here’s a position-by-position analysis of the roster heading into the final cuts:

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks (2, number of players on the opening day roster against Chicago in 2011 at the position) – Locks: Matt Ryan and Luke McCown. On the bubble: Dominique Davis.

McCown played the past three seasons in Jacksonville under new Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

Davis has dazzled in the exhibition games, completing 19 of 32 pass attempts for 227 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 88.9.

It will be interesting to see if the team exposes him to the waiver wire and try to sneak him back through to the practice squad.

Wide receivers (5) – Locks: Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas. On the bubble: Kerry Meier, Drew Davis and Kevin Cone. Longshots: James Rodgers, Tim Toone and Marcus Jackson.

Coaches have been impressed with undrafted rookie linebacker Jerrell Harris, from Alabama, taking the field for practice in Flowery Branch on Sunday, July 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Coaches have been impressed with undrafted rookie linebacker Jerrell Harris, from Alabama, taking the field for practice in Flowery Branch on Sunday, July 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Meier appeared to have the fourth spots locked up before suffering a leg injury.

Davis and Cone have both had strong camps and could round out the unit. Toone had a nice touchdown catch against Miami and can play special teams.

Jackson and Rodgers are candidates for the practice squad.

Offensive line (9) – Locks: Sam Baker, Lamar Holmes, Justin Blalock, Todd McClure, Peter Konz, Tyson Clabo and Garrett Reynolds. On the bubble: Joe Hawley and Mike Johnson. Longshots: Andrew Jackson, Phillipkeith Manley, Tyler Horn and Bryce Harris.

The battle for the starting right guard spot between second-round pick Peter Konz and Garrett Reynolds is going down to the wire.

Third-round pick Lamar Holmes was impressive in a cameo appearance against Miami. He will get extended playing time against Jacksonville.

Manley has some potential and could be back on the practice squad.

Atlanta Falcons rookie defensive back Shann Schillinger runs after intercepting Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle in the third quarter. Schillinger is a native of Baker, Mont., and played college football at the University of Montana. (Photo by Jimmy Cribb, Atlantafalcons.com)

Atlanta Falcons defensive back Shann Schillinger runs after intercepting Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle in the third quarter during his rookie season. Schillinger is a native of Baker, Mont., and played college football at the University of Montana. (Photo by Jimmy Cribb, Atlantafalcons.com)

Tight ends (3) – Locks: Tony Gonzalez and Michael Palmer. Longshots: Tommy Gallarda and LaMark Brown.

The Falcons could go with just two tight ends and use Reynolds as the third tight end in short yardage situations.

Running backs (5) – Locks: Michael Turner, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers. On the bubble: Antone Smith, Dimitri Nance and Lousaka Polite. Longshot: Mike Cox.

Antone Smith starred on special teams last season and should make it back to the roster. If Polite doesn’t show well against Jacksonville, the Falcons may be in the salary-cap casualty market for a fullback.

DEFENSE

Defensive line (10) Locks: Ends — John Abraham, Ray Edwards and Kroy Biermann. Tackles – Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jeria and Travian Robertson. On the bubble: Ends – Lawrence Sidbury, Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi. Tackles – Vance Walker. Longshots: Tackles – Conrad Obi and Micanor Regis.

If the Falcons keep 10 players along the defensive line again, all of the defensive ends – Sidbury, Matthews and Massaquoi – could make the final roster.

With Corey Peters on the reserve/non-football injured list, there’s an extra spot for one of the tackles.

Linebackers (6) Locks: Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas, Akeem Dent and Mike Peterson. On the bubble: Robert James and Spencer Adkins. Longshots: Rico Council, Pat Schiller and Jerrell Harris.

The Falcons are expecting big seasons from Weatherspoon, Dent and Nicholas.

Peterson will serve as the main backup while James and Adkins play on special teams.

Council, Schiller and Harris are all solid candidates for the practice squad.

Cornerbacks (6) Locks: Dunta Robinson, Asante Samuel, Brent Grimes and Dominique Franks. On the bubble:  Christopher Owens and Peyton Thompson. Longshots: Marty Markett and Robert McClain.

Smith said that injuries will be a factor in some decisions and Owens has been out with a hamstring. Thompson and McClain have had strong camps.

Safeties (4) – Locks: William Moore, Thomas DeCoud and Chris Hope. On the bubble: Charles Mitchell and Shann Schillinger. Longshots: Suaesi Tuimaunei.

The final safety spot appears to be down to Schillinger and Mitchell.

Specialists (3) — Locks: Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher and Joe Zelenka. Longshot: Josh Harris.

Harris looks like a pro snapper and could latch on with another team.

THE LATEST NEWS

Backup quarterback Luke McCown signed, Chris Redman released

Harry Douglas not the forgotten man in the Falcons offense

Corey Peters to be evaluated after six weeks

Falcons waive Parker Wilson, place Peters on injured list

5 things to look for from the starters vs. the Dolphins

Should the Falcons trade with Jax/London Jags for MJD?

Falcons third-round pick Lamar Holmes set to make his debut vs. Dolphins

Coordinators hand out their exhibition mid-term reports; backups need to step it up

Running back Michael Turner still a weapon

Falcons thin at left tackle after Will Svitek goes down; out for season

Falcons finally get fiesty in practice; a couple of fights breakout

Akeem Dent returns to practice; will play against Miami

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

114 comments Add your comment

ATLJBO

August 29th, 2012
3:59 pm

Charlie Murphy

August 29th, 2012
4:05 pm

Lol @ your decision to put Dom Davis on the bubble. McCown is the one on the bubble lol. Davis is the reason Redman and JPW are gone and you think McCown comes in off the street and moves ahead of Davis? That’s cray man.

Charlie Murphy

August 29th, 2012
4:08 pm

They just brought McCown in to finish out the final preseason game and pick his brain. NOTHING about McCown’s skills says lock but you. Lol

50 caliber

August 29th, 2012
4:10 pm

McCown is not a lock, in fact I would say he’s a long shot. Davis is a Lock, mark it down. Other than that D Led is dead on.

Charlie Murphy

August 29th, 2012
4:12 pm

I don’t know that Chris Hope is a lock either. His play has not stood out at all from the rest. Zelenka is solid but Harris looks good too so I don’t know that Zelenka is a lock either.

ignition

August 29th, 2012
4:12 pm

I don’t trust McCown even as a backup.. He flat out stinks..
Vance Walker is interesting that he is on the bubble considering when he has been in the games he’s been productive. I trust him more than Travian Robertson.

Charlie Murphy

August 29th, 2012
4:14 pm

ignition- With Peters on PUP I think both Walker and Robertson make the roster but somebody goes to PS or waiver wire at week 6 if Peters is activated.

50 caliber

August 29th, 2012
4:20 pm

when Peters comes back. it will be Matthews or Masaq. to the PS unless someone gets hurt.

Charlie Murphy

August 29th, 2012
4:26 pm

I don’t know that they keep 5 DT’s. I see Matthews on PS.

Double Dees is not a lock

August 29th, 2012
4:29 pm

McCown is 4 years younger then Redman, familiar with Koetter. Who knows what he might do with an actual recieving corp. Davis is untested and an undrafted rookie, who despite showing promise, who knows if FO is ready to roll with as Ryan’s primary backup. Best case scenario, they keep 3 on roster until Corey Peters returns of of PUP.

Double Dees is not a lock

August 29th, 2012
4:29 pm

McCown is 4 years younger then Redman, familiar with Koetter. Who knows what he might do with an actual recieving corp. Davis is untested and an undrafted rookie, who despite showing promise, who knows if FO is ready to roll with as Ryan’s primary backup. Best case scenario, they keep 3 on roster until Corey Peters returns of of PUP.

GTT

August 29th, 2012
4:36 pm

Meier looked like he might be another Finneran, but he can’t stay healthy. Probably gone.

GTT

August 29th, 2012
4:38 pm

I wonder how Michael Koenen is feeling about his decision right about now.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 29th, 2012
4:41 pm

Charlie Murphy – BTW, love your work!!! A vet gets that spot over a undrafted rookie who’s never been tested under NFL regular fire every time. He should move past McCown. But right now, Cool Hand Luke is running No. 2.

Peanut

August 29th, 2012
4:41 pm

Dominique D is the best back up i seen in a while. Atl Falcon please dont make another dumb move. What i saw the last time he played was the recievers droping the ball of a perfect throw. Look out #2

DC Dirty Bird

August 29th, 2012
4:56 pm

I’d rather have Davis on the roster to keep other teams off of him than carry Kevin Cone as a 6th receiver. The kid has shown talent and good back up QB’s are hard to find. To me, if you have good coaches, you can put a rook QB in and have success. Besides, you never go into a season expecting to go to the SB with your back-up. Its likely better to have someone with no tape on them as your back-up than McCown who has shown the leage his “limitations”.

Oh yeah, Schillinger’s done. Thanks for the hard work the last two years.

cb795

August 29th, 2012
4:58 pm

Let’s see, you want your team to have more talent than other teams. So the Staints cut McCown now there waste will be your savior! Thats crazy, he couldn’t beat out the rookie from Jax and anyone with the Staints. Wow that’s crazy.

Cedric

August 29th, 2012
5:00 pm

I think everybody is saying the same thing, so why is it that everyone can see Davis deserves to be number 2 and the coaches can’t see this. I hope the kid signs with someone if the Falcons dont do the right thing and make him number 2.

McCown DEFINITELY ain't a lock

August 29th, 2012
5:09 pm

It’s just a formality lol regardless of how long McCown has been in the league he has never shown any real promise as even a backup on any team. At least Davis shows some promise. McCown had the same WR corp in Jaxville that Garrard had and Garrard did a decent job where as McCown still stunk it up. McCown did have 1 good year in limited play back in 07….5 yrs ago. This is his 4th team. You don’t replace a DT spot with a QB. Whoever they keep at QB won’t have a thing to do with who stays at DT until Peters comes back…if he does at all this season. If I remember correctly Matt Ryan was a untested rookie QB at one point. How did that turn out for ya?? It will be interesting to see what your BFF McCown can do Thursday night.

SawThat1nce

August 29th, 2012
5:11 pm

mountain_jim

August 29th, 2012
5:16 pm

IF DLed ran team Falcons would lose Davis. No way he goes to waivers.

D. Orlando Trollbetter

August 29th, 2012
5:26 pm

I got ya’ll with that Luke McCown is a lock to be the #2 and it’s not even April Fools.

D. Orlando Trollbetter

August 29th, 2012
5:29 pm

“In my slow retarded Southern drawl: Can ya’ll believe AJC pays me for this. I get to troll all day internationally and get a check. Sweet!

*Frederick(Bailey)Douglass*

August 29th, 2012
5:32 pm

I like the breakdown. Good work DOL.

Interesting…I thought Cox worked well with our subpar O-Line. Kind of like an extra guard.

I would LOVE to see the big rook start over Reynolds. Look, we know what #65 has in the tank. The rookie will end up playing anyway. Throw him in there and be better by the time you head into Philly. Linebacker is thin DOL. Early reports are that Dent is shaky. Funny, because he only needs to run and fill. Thats it. I hope he tunes up soon…he is representing Hightower Road.

The Falcons would be BEST served if they traded #33 Turner to a “needy” team right now for a veteran Middle LB or veteran RT. Jacksonville, Vikings are candidates. With Snelling and Rodgers you can optimally run the offense. Get something for him now…after this season you wont want him anyway.

Its getting to be about that time!!! GAMETIME

I see the Falcons rolling into Philly being 5-1. We’ll know more when see our old friend – MV7 – again on a fall day right along I-95!!!

FBD

Savannah Bird

August 29th, 2012
5:38 pm

c’mon you can’t be serious about DD

Mikey

August 29th, 2012
5:44 pm

Nice recap DLed! It is interesting to note how many new faces have a chance to make this team. We’ve seen some great talent working hard to do so. Peters’ and Svitek’s injuries opened up room for some changes for at least the first six weeks. That’s nice so that we can get some of this new talent more preparation for the final decision and better chance of sticking. I’m hoping for retention of D. Davis and think it would be worth keeping three QB’s so that he can grow quickly without having to clear wavers. I don’t think we would win him back if released. With top notch depth at QB, this team is pretty well filled out for the regular season. I hope the new linebackers can stay with us, at least on the PS… GO FALCONS.

Runner-

August 29th, 2012
5:44 pm

Ony ones I disagree with is, like previous posters stated, Dom Davis is not on the bubble. Also, Sidbury is easily a lock with the strong play he has shown. I also am not so sure Travian Robertson has the advantage over Vance Walker. But hey, it comes down to this final game.

Runner-

August 29th, 2012
5:45 pm

@D-Led,

Luke is in no way a proven vet lol, if anything, he has proven he is NOT NFL ready, while Dom Davis simply hasn’t had the opportunity yet. I see them both battling for the backup spot, head to head, no way Luke comes in and is 2nd

CC

August 29th, 2012
5:49 pm

Are you serious? V. Walker is not on the bubble you are! no way Robertson go before Walker. Walker is solid and I have not seen Robertson play with the 1st, team doing the preseason. games WOW!!!!!!

Connor

August 29th, 2012
5:57 pm

Hey D-Led,

Lawrence Sidbury on the bubble? I thought he was having a great camp? Wasn’t he on the the MVP’s of the scrimmage at the high school?

Falcon James

August 29th, 2012
6:19 pm

This all looks like what you would think. The only surprise here is that D. Davis is not a lock. I can’t understand why the Falcon would let him get away. He is a diamond in the rough.

5150 UOAD

August 29th, 2012
6:46 pm

Whadda Ya Know?

August 29th, 2012
6:50 pm

If Smitty keeps McCown because he’s a vet then we no for sure that the “open competition” Smitty claims is a bunch of BS! McCown’s numbers are worst than Redman’s stats. He should fall flat on his face as well–I wouldn’t expect too much out of McCown.

Dom on the other hand has way more upside and I’d venture to say will perform like he has in the last two games. For those of you talking about an unproven rookie, let me remind you that Ryan was an unproven rookie when he came in and took over. Look at the number of unproven rookies that will be starting around the league this year. A number of you are reaching for reasons why the UDFA rookie will not get the #2 job.

Charlie

August 29th, 2012
6:56 pm

Dominique Davis would not last 30 seconds on the waiver wire.
DOL is a typical AJC writer, stirs up trouble just to sell some print.

But if for some absurd reason that DOL is printing da truth, then we need to start looking
for a new GM and HC.

jaz

August 29th, 2012
7:05 pm

DOL, if I recall correctly, the passing stats for Redman and McCown were practically identical except that McCown had many more interceptions. That really warms my heart.

Rise Up Nation

August 29th, 2012
7:10 pm

Dled, if the Falcons allow DD to be cut then they are a bunch of stupid people in management! No way do you allow that type of talent to be cut, it would be a horrible move. And to think of it who wants NO’s garbarge? No way we should have picked him up! Not good enough to stay on NO’s squad? We dont need no stinking leftovers from them! Would have preferred Vince Young for what thats worth! Don’t make a mistake management! Got to say I hope you are very wrong about this DLed. You still the man however!

Wings

August 29th, 2012
7:13 pm

D. Davis is number 2 on the Falcons site and Luke is on the bubble.

calm down

August 29th, 2012
7:19 pm

D Led always prints the truth.

Michael M.

August 29th, 2012
8:01 pm

Cool hand Luke was a movie and this guy…………laughin here…………is not ” The Dominator ” with the desire to succeed ! Its going to be an interesting game this week when they get to play and I can’t wait until we see who dominates at Quarterback if Ryan isn’t playing……………………………………….

Michael M.

August 29th, 2012
8:05 pm

I forgot to add this but curious minds would like to know……………………………………………………………………….Does Coach Smitty pull a ” Donald Trump ” and just flat out tell em …………………….” Sorry Kid, but ‘ You ‘re Fired ‘ ! …………….

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

August 29th, 2012
8:11 pm

Hopefully the Falcons coaching staff know something about McCown that we can’t find out when we review his body of work in the NFL……..HOPEFULLY!!!!!

Other than being younger, what does McCown have over Redman???????

Hopefully Meier doesn’t make the team…..he can’t stay healthy and I have not seen him do much of anything when he’s on the field other than running down the field on special teams where he has not made that many tackles.

iron head

August 29th, 2012
8:25 pm

D-lead cool hand luke would have been bought in to compete if Kotter wanted him badly at the #2. There is no way TD lets them cut a diamond in the rough.

Rey

August 29th, 2012
8:56 pm

THE FALCONS WILL REGRET THE DAY THEY LET D. DAVIS GO! See Brett Favre and Matt Schaub.

Michael M.

August 29th, 2012
9:14 pm

I just hope we get the right players and not the wrong ones after these last cuts……………hate to know we had some good ones that slipped under the radar by accident just because they were on this so -called bubble instead of a lock…………….guess its hel* and high fury come this last preseason game if you want to make the team……….oh well, guess we shall soon find out……………………

Tdawg

August 29th, 2012
9:15 pm

Plain as the nose on your face. D Davis is head and shoulders better than any back up QB Atlanta has ever had. If for what ever reason they come up with to put DD on waivers, that would tell me one thing. Falcon coaches are the worst at evaluating talent there is in the NFL, No way on earth could the coaching staff not see a future star in the making. Kid’s got all-pro written all over him. How can you not see what is right in front of your face. This discussion shouldn’t even be taking place.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 29th, 2012
9:43 pm

iron head — Cool Hand was with the Aints and got cut. Koetter could not have brought him into compete.

SeenThisB4

August 29th, 2012
9:44 pm

McCowan’s a LOCK! Davis will be cut, waived and NOBODY is going to claim him, not even the jets. After that the falcan’ts will sign him to their ho-hum squad for the rest of the year. No big deal.

Face it, he isn’t very good.

If he were, he’d be ahead of the QB the Saints dumped with their initial round of cuts, the easy no-brainer cuts….And then the falcan’ts swoop in and pick him up just after they dumped two even worse back-ups in Redman and JPW.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 29th, 2012
9:45 pm

jaz — When it comes to backup quarterbacks, the coaches are looking for comfort. Would I be “comfortable” is this guy had to finish a game? DK clearly wasn’t too impressed with Redman and wanted his guy, Cool Hand Luke.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 29th, 2012
9:46 pm

Charlie — Oh, you calm down. It’s part of the “process.”

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 29th, 2012
9:48 pm

Connor — Yeah, I love him. He makes plays whenever he gets in the game. And yes, we did award him the FNL Media Game Ball for his Friday Night Lights performance. But the other star of that scrimmage, Michael Calvin, has been released.