We're just a few hours away from cut-down day, one of my least favorite on the NFL calendar. I know there's a reality show element to this whole thing, seeing who survives the final cuts. It's also a day where jobs are lost and dreams go unrealized. That's zero fun on any level and needs to be acknowledged.
It's even tougher here after such a competitive preseason featuring talented players vying for but a few spots and rotational roles. As Arthur Smith said after Saturday's preseason win over Jacksonville, he and GM Terry Fontenot have some tough decisions ahead.
Some of you have questions about that, others about what the Falcons will look like on the other side of cut-down day. Let's get to them in this Monday afternoon edition of Bair Mail:
Cecelia P. from Portland, Ore.
I'm from Oregon, so I'm sure you can guess I'm a Marcus Mariota fan. What are your thoughts on his training camp?
Bair: Marcus Mariota has been really good this summer, both as a field general and locker room presence. The offense has bought into his leadership style, with offensive players wanting to play hard for him. I also think Mariota has looked really good, really confident operating Arthur Smith's scheme.
We've seen that in his relatively brief preseason cameos, which match his execution in regular practices and joint sessions against the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars. He can obviously extend plays with his legs, but he has operated well within the pocket. Chemistry is developing with Kyle Pitts, Bryan Edwards and Olamide Zaccheaus, plus Drake London before he got hurt.
He has been the Falcons QB1 all summer and has earned that role. This will offer as good an opportunity as any for Mariota to re-establish himself as an NFL starter. And let's not forget that he's only 28. It's entirely possible he's a longer-term solution here if things go extremely well.
We take a look at the top snaps from 2022 AT&T Training Camp practice in Flowery Branch on Monday, August 29.
Winston Schmidt from Long Island, N.Y.
Do you think we'll add any new faces to the team after teams cut rosters down to 53? If so, where?
Bair: I think there's a great chance, if not a mortal lock, the Falcons will add to this roster once players become available on Tuesday afternoon. They should take a long look at defensive lineman hitting the street, to see if they can upgrade on the back end of their rotation. They need a sub-package pass rusher especially, someone who can work from the interior getting after the quarterback. Another massive body's an option as well, adding support for Anthony Rush.
That isn't a vote of no confidence in some in-house options. I really like Derrick Tangelo, and Abdullah Anderson has been decent since he signed here. That's just a spot where I'd take a close look at outside options, maybe at edge rusher as well, if someone intriguing comes up.
Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.
Here's an off the wall question for you: When the front office decides to cut a player, how do they notify them. Qadree Ollison said something about a phone call. Do they do that? I thought they'd at least sent someone to get them
Bair: That's a good question Will, and teams handle it differently. I respect the Falcons way of doing business. Head coach Arthur Smith and/or GM Terry Fontenot speak with everyone in person, delivering difficult news. That's how it should be, considering how hard all of these guys have worked trying to make the team. It's honestly a good group around here, one full of guys who pushed hard for a roster spot. Many will fall short of that goal. It's appropriate to recognize that effort with an in-person conversation.
Regan L. from Los Angeles, Calif.
Bair, saw your article on under-radar-players that you liked. Let's include everyone in this question. Who was your favorite player to watch in training camp?
Bair: That's a tough one. Like, really tough. There are so many unique personalities and talents on the roster that's hard to pick just one. So I'll pick a few: I love watching A.J. Terrell work. He is so efficient with his movement and confident in his abilities. And he just never makes mistakes.
I have also enjoyed watching Desmond Ridder progress through the summer. He looks so, so much better than he did a month ago. His anticipation has taken a step up. He seems to be processing things better. And, every now and then, he'll make a throw that'll make a jaw drop.
It has been great seeing Dee Alford emerge, because he makes so many plays on the ball. I could go on and one, but that's a few off the top of my head.
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Wednesday's Bair Mail.