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Falcons snap counts from the preseason finale against the Jaguars - The Falcoholic


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by Dave Choate 

 

What did we learn about the roster decisions ahead from the snap counts?

That’s a wrap for the 2022 preseason. In the coming days, the Falcons will have to cut 27 players to get down to the roster limit, and they’ll then have the ability to add 16 practice squad players back. Chances are it won’t be quite that clean for this group—Atlanta’s said they’re keeping a close eye on potential cuts from other teams who might be imported to the roster or the squad—but this is a tough time for players and represents some agonizing decisions for this coaching staff and front office.

Who is staying and who is going? Snap counts won’t tell us the tale on their own, obviously, but there may be some clues in how the Falcons divvied up playing time against the Jaguars. Let’s break down those snap counts and see what they tell us. 

Offense

Leroy Watson: 65

Justin Shaffer: 65

Ryan Neuzil: 65

Jonotthan Harrison: 65

Tyler Vrabel: 65

Desmond Ridder: 53

Frank Darby: 39

MyCole Pruitt: 36

Cameron Batson: 32

Jared Bernhardt: 29

KeeSean Johnson: 26

Caleb Huntley: 26

Tucker Fisk: 25

Tyler Allgeier: 21

Feleipe Franks: 20

Qadree Ollison: 18

Damiere Byrd: 18

Stanley Berryhill: 17

Anthony Firkser: 16

John Raine: 14


A lot of clues here about who the Falcons really wanted to evaluate in the preseason finale. 

Playing exclusively the third-team line tells you the Falcons have a pretty good idea of who’s going to be on the roster—I had guessed it’d be Jake Matthews, Elijah Wilkinson, Matt Hennessy, Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary, Germaine Ifedi, Drew Dalman, Colby Gossett, and Jalen Mayfield, and I think that’ll prove true—and wanted to see who will be a worthwhile long-term practice squad project. Harrison shot himself in the foot with a pair of false start penalties, but the other four linemen all had their moments, with Neuzil’s nastiness and versatility and Shaffer’s run blocking standing out. The coaching staff has to be pleased generally with how well that group held up, and I’d expect 2-3 of them to stick around on the practice squad.

Something similar played out at wide receiver, where Drake London, Bryan Edwards, Olamide Zaccheaus, and KhaDarel Hodge were parked for the afternoon on Saturday. With just one or two spots open on the roster and perhaps a couple on the practice squad, Atlanta got their long look at the likes of Darby, Batson, and Bernhardt in particular, with Byrd logging his time early on. I think it’s telling that Darby both started and got the most playing time of any wide receiver, as the team was clearly wanting to see him prove he belonged on the roster. He had one of the better plays of the day and remains a core special teams contributor, so I have to think he probably did enough to make it. This is the position group where the decisions seem most difficult, though.

Or maybe that’s running back, where the Falcons took a long look at three young players vying for one or two spots. With Cordarrelle Patterson and Damien Williams seemingly locked in and Allgeier justly considered a strong bet, the Falcons were likely hoping one of Ollison or Huntley would distinguish themselves while getting Allgeier some valuable reps. Both Ollison and Huntley played well, but Huntley got more run and was probably the most impressive runner of the trio, so if there’s a fourth spot I’d say he’s probably earned it. The player who loses out should be a virtual practice squad lock.

Finally, tight end was just odd. Firkser was a player I would’ve expected to sit this one out, but instead that was Parker Hesse, who appears to have locked up the third job after all. Atlanta may have felt they needed a compelling receiving option out there for Desmond Ridder or that Firkser needed more time as a tune-up, but unfortunately Firkser was injured (hopefully a minor one). MyCole Pruitt, Tucker Fisk, John Raine, and rookie John FitzPatrick (who didn’t play) are likely vying for one roster spot at most and a practice squad slot. 

Defense

Teez Tabor: 61

Henry Black: 61

Corey Ballentine: 61

Nate Landman: 44

Arnold Ebiketie: 37

DeAngelo Malone: 36

Troy Andersen: 36

Timothy Horne: 34

Mike Ford: 33

Abdullah Anderson: 32

Nick Thurman: 32

Isaiah Oliver: 31

Matt Hankins: 27

Quinton Bell: 25

Jordan Brailford: 24

Darrion Daniels: 21

Derrick Tangelo: 20

Nick Kwiatkoski: 17

Deion Jones: 13

Dorian Etheridge: 11

Darren Hall: 8

Dee Alford: 6


Plenty of interesting notes based on playing time here, as well. 

The fact that Hall and Alford barely played suggests they’re both safe, which was my working assumption. If there’s a roster spot or two open in the defensive backfield, it’ll likely go to a player who has some versatility and can get the job done on special teams, and it appears that Atlanta wanted a long look at Tabor, Black, Ballentine, Ford, and perhaps Hankins for that role and potential practice squad spots. Tabor once again played pretty well, Ballentine had an uneven performance but did pick up a nice interception, and Hankins mixed a penalty with a couple of nice plays. I don’t have a great feel for how that’s going to shake out, but if there is a roster spot Tabor would be my bet for it, with Ford a strong practice squad possibility. 

The defensive line depth was—may still be—a significant concern, but the play of the some of the contenders vying for spots the past two weeks has been legitimately encouraging, even if it came against backups. Timothy Horne didn’t play an unblemished game, but he’s looked powerful and capable throughout the summer and has made a strong push for a role. Ditto Derrick Tangelo, who had his best game of the preseason and made a ton of plays on a tidy 20 snaps. Tritto Abdullah Anderson, who has seized the opportunity and been consistently solid in his playing time for Atlanta. It’s quite possible the Falcons will look outside the organization for additional help here, but this trio (and Thurman and Daniels, who have also played pretty well) has done enough to stick around in some capacity behind Grady Jarrett, Ta’Quon Graham, and Anthony Rush.

Finally, go ahead and pencil Landman in to a role, likely on the practice squad. The Falcons have played him a ton this preseason and he’s consistently made plays, and with Dorian Etheridge potentially missing a lot of time after his unfortunate injury and Deion Jones’ future still uncertain, there should be room for Landman. 

Special Teams 

Teez Tabor: 15

Henry Black: 14

Stanley Berryhill: 14

Nate Landman: 14

Arnold Ebiketie: 13

Quinton Bell: 11

Bradley Pinion: 11

Jared Bernhardt: 10

Corey Ballentine: 10

John Raine: 10

KeeSean Johnson: 9

Caleb Huntley: 9

DeAngelo Malone: 8

Liam McCullough: 8

Qadree Ollison: 8

Matt Hankins: 8

Younghoe Koo: 6

Erik Harris: 5

Cameron Batson: 5

Colby Gossett: 4

Drew Dalman: 4

Jonotthan Harrison: 4

Justin Shaffer: 4

Leroy Watson: 4

Ryan Neuzil: 4

Tyler Vrabel: 4

Frank Darby: 4

MyCole Pruitt: 4

Anthony Firkser: 4

Dee Alford: 4

Tucker Fisk: 3

Darren Hall: 3

Timothy Horne: 3

Troy Andersen: 2


You could drive yourself nuts trying to interpret playing time here. If roster locks like Alford, Andersen, and Hall barely played, does that mean it’s a great sign for Darby and Horne that they barely factored in, or did it just come down to game situations and evaluations? Should we read the extended playing time for Tabor, Black, Landman, and Bell as a good sign for their chances or just additional scrutiny for Marquice Williams and company? Why was Drew Dalman just in on special teams, and is it a sign of what’s ahead for the center job announcement?

The one thing I’m willing to say with any confidence is that Tabor, Landman, and Bell in particular playing well on defense and getting extended run on special teams where most of their gameday run would come on Sundays does seem like a good sign. Bell has been here since early September 2021 and just needs the team to be willing to carry five outside linebackers, because he’s certainly earned a role. Tabor’s ability and willingness to play special teams and history at both safety and cornerback plays in his favor as a versatile super substitute, and Landman’s sound tackling would be welcome for Williams. 

We’ll see how it shakes out in the coming days, but the Falcons wanted a long look at these guys for good reason. Berryhill, who was an excellent special teamer in college, may quietly earn a practice squad spot based solely on his promise there as well.
 

https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2022/8/28/23324892/falcons-snap-counts-from-the-preseason-finale-against-the-jaguars-teez-tabor-frank-darby

 

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