Fal­cons’ Quinn brac­ing for mas­sive round of ros­ter cuts

Rome News-Tribune - - SPORTS - By Charles Odum As­so­ci­ated Press Sports Writer

FLOW­ERY BRANCH — Cut­down day is no fun for At­lanta Fal­cons coach Dan Quinn.

This year, the cuts will be es­pe­cially bru­tal. In­stead of spread­ing the de­ci­sions over two dead­lines as in pre­vi­ous years, NFL coaches and gen­eral man­agers must cut ros­ters from 90 to 53 play­ers by Satur­day at 4 p.m.

Quinn said Tuesday he and his staff poured over “all our tapes” on Monday night, study­ing each At­lanta player whose job is on the line.

Some de­ci­sions could hinge on Thursday night’s fi­nal pre­sea­son game against Jack­sonville. Some starters may not play as the fo­cus will be on back­ups com­pet­ing for ros­ter spots. The Fal­cons also will keep 11 on their prac­tice squad, in­clud­ing an in­ter­na­tional player ex­emp­tion for tight end Alex Gray, from Lon­don.

“We’re just try­ing to be thor­ough and try­ing to make sure we make the best de­ci­sions we can,” Quinn said. He said cutting play­ers is “not one of the fa­vorite parts” of his job.

The Fal­cons’ cuts could come on Fri­day.

Quinn listed the secondary, line­backer, defensive end, of­fen­sive guard and

wide re­ceiver as among the ar­eas where ros­ter spots are on the line.

The Fal­cons also must make a de­ci­sion on cor­ner­back Jalen Collins, who is sus­pended for the first 10 games of the sea­son. It is his sec­ond sus­pen­sion for a vi­o­la­tion of the league’s pol­icy on per­for­mance en­hancers.

Ben Gar­land and Wes Sch­weitzer are com­pet­ing for the start­ing job at right guard. There are other less-pub­li­cized bat­tles for backup jobs.

“This is tough be­cause there are some guys who are re­ally bat­tling for it,” Quinn said. “We are for­tu­nate we have a few po­si­tions with guys that are re­ally in that spot.”

In­juries can im­pact de­ci­sions. Of­fen­sive tackle Austin Pasz­tor, who has a pec­toral in­jury, won’t play against Jack­sonville. Quinn also said he hopes Pasz­tor will be cleared for team ac­tiv­i­ties next week, a pos­si­ble in­di­ca­tor Pasz­tor will make the team as a backup over Kevin Graf, who is out with an an­kle in­jury.

Rookie run­ning back Brian Hill, a fifth-round pick from Wy­oming, won’t play against the Jaguars af­ter leav­ing last week’s loss to Ari­zona with an an­kle in­jury. The in­jury could be dev­as­tat­ing to Hill’s hopes of beat­ing out Ter­ron Ward as the team’s third run­ning back be­hind Devonta Free­man and Tevin Cole­man.

Quinn likes Hill’s work on spe­cial teams, so it’s pos­si­ble the team could keep four run­ning backs.

Free­man was cleared from his con­cus­sion pro­to­col af­ter par­tic­i­pat­ing only in in­di­vid­ual drills on Monday. He wore a black non-con­tact jersey on Tuesday but oth­er­wise had no lim­i­ta­tions.

Free­man, who spent two weeks in the con­cus­sion pro­to­col, will not play against Jack­sonville. Bar­ring a set­back, he should be ready for the team’s first reg­u­lar-sea­son game at Chicago on Sept. 10.

Quar­ter­back Matt Ryan said hav­ing Free­man back in prac­tice gave the team a boost. “Any­time you get him back on the field and back to work, it’s a good thing,” Ryan said. “I think he’s done a good job all through train­ing camp. He had some time to sit out but he looks pretty good coming back. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go once we roll around to week one.”

John Bazemore / The As­so­ci­ated Press

At­lanta Fal­cons head coach Dan Quinn said, “This is tough be­cause there are some guys who are re­ally bat­tling for it. We are for­tu­nate we have a few po­si­tions with guys that are re­ally in that spot.”

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