Kendall Sheffield ‘ready’ for increased reps if Falcons make changes to starting lineup

PHOENIX – Falcons’ starting cornerback Isaiah Oliver was sidelined on Houston’s final drive of the game and rookie Kendall Sheffield took his place.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn suggested he will consider making personnel changes based off the way his team performed on Sunday in Houston.

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The Falcons gave up 592 yards of total offense in the 53-32 loss to the Texans, the most the franchise has given up since 2004.

“We'll have a full report on what took place and if there was miscommunication and if there is changes to be made from a personnel side, we'll obviously look into everything in terms of how we play,” Quinn said. “There's no excuse for having a performance like that.”

Oliver has struggled at times to make the necessary plays when needed. Whether it’s been penalties at costly times or technique issues, Oliver hasn’t quite been able to get over the “hump” as his passing game coordinator said last week.

“Isaiah has been really, really close to making the play and he’s got to get over the hump to ‘How do I know get that last bit to finish? How do take that play that I almost make and convert that into a play for us?’” assistant coach Jerome Henderson said. “That’s what we’re working on this week to help him convert more of those really close plays and to get him even closer and to playing with more confidence.”

After seeing action in 14 games with two starts in his rookie season, Oliver was primed to take over the starting role in 2019. The former second-round pick has recorded 21 tackles so far on the year.

Should the Falcons start increasing Sheffield’s playing time, Quinn has confidence he’ll be able to do the job. Sheffield played 26 snaps against the Texans.

Sheffield has primarily been Damontae Kazee’s backup at nickel cornerback, but he has the versatility to play outside as well.

“He certainly is ready, and you're correct that he did play more as it was going through for the game,” Quinn said. “And (Damontae) Kazee was also injured, so we slid him back inside to nickel. But, yeah, he was going into the game with some more reps and he did that tonight.”

The Falcons drafted Sheffield in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft in hopes to bring more speed and versatility to the secondary.

Depending on the severity of Kazee’s head injury, Sheffield could either see more reps at nickel cornerback or on the outside moving forward as the Falcons (1-4) look to find answers to their problems and get back on track.

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