In surprise moves, cornerback Dominique Franks and linebacker Spencer Adkins were released by the Falcons on Friday.
With a new defensive coordinator in Mike Nolan and secondary coach in Joe Danna, the dismissal of Franks is part of major renovation in the secondary.
Franks is the second cornerback from last season’s opening-day roster to be released. The team reached an injury settlement with Darrin Walls, who made the team last season as an undrafted free agent from Notre Dame, when they cut down from 90 to 75 players.
Franks played in 11 games last season and made four starts. He finished with 17 tackles, three passes defensed and had two interceptions. He was a fifth round pick in 2010.
Behind cornerbacks Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel, the Falcons elected to keep Christopher Owens and Robert McClain.
Behind starting safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, the Falcons retained veteran safety Chris Hope and rookie Charles Mitchell. Shann Schillinger was placed on injured reserve.
Adkins, who started in the playoffs against the New York Giants for Stephen Nicholas, was a sixth round pick in 2009.
The team also waived wide receiver Drew Davis, linebackers Pat Schiller and Rico Council, center Tyler Horn, wide receiver James Rodgers, cornerback Peyton Thompson, cornerback Marty Markett, wide receIver Marcus Jackson, offensive tackle Bryce Harris, linebacker Jerrell Harris, safety Suaesi Tuimaunei, defensive tackle Micanor Regis, running back Dimitri Nance and defensive lineman Conrad Obi.
Veterans fullback Mike Cox and long snapper Joe Zelenka were released.
Wide receiver Kerry Meier was waived injured.
The team reached injury settlements with tight end LaMark Brown and tackle Andrew Jackson.
Schiller played at Northern Illinois and amassed 239 tackles over his four-year career. He had 19 tackles for loss, three sacks and eight passes defensed. He had a strong game against Jacksonville on Thursday as he led the defense with eight tackles, including one tackle for a loss.
“Pat Schiller played pretty good tonight,” linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “I think he’s been getting better throughout the camp and he kind of showed that tonight.”
The Falcons are going to carry just five linebackers on the 53-man roster. Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent, Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson appear to be locks. The fifth spot will likely be filled by Robert James.
Horn started at center for the Miami Hurricanes. He was a second-team all-ACC selection.
Brown played at Minnesota-Mankato after transferring from Kansas State. He was the 50th rated wide receiver by ESPN draft analyst Kiper, but the Falcons played him at tight end.
Obi, 6-3, 290. a native of College Park who played at Grayson High, played at Colorado.
He appeared in 41 games during his career at Colorado and had a breakout season as a senior. In 2011, Obi started seven games and posted 31 total tackles (14 solo) with three passes defensed, one tackle for loss, and one fumble recovery.
He was signed as a free agent by Arizona after the draft, but was released.
Council played at Tennessee State and was named the Ohio Valley Conference preseason co-defensive player of the year. In 2011, he had a team-high 87 tackles (49 solo) with 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception, 11 passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Council turned some heads in training camp with his striking ability and is likely one of the leading candidates for the practice squad.
“He’s a big, burly and thick guy,” linebacker coach Glenn Pires said. “He’s got to bring the wood. Those are his assets. He’s a big and strong guy. He’s physical in the run game. That’s what we want to get from him, getting downhill and playing physical.”
The Falcons must cut down from 75 players to 53 players by 9 p.m. today. We will be updating this file as we confirm the players released.
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