Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here belong to Matthew Tabeek and not the Atlanta Falcons, unless noted otherwise.
ATLANTA – This position group is certainly much more interesting than it was a week or two ago. Outside of the quarterbacks and receivers, the Falcons' specialists appeared to be set heading into training camp and preseason play.
And then came the misses.
First from 54 yards out. Then 52, and 52 again. Even though one of those field-goal attempts was tipped, it didn’t matter to Falcons fans. Panic was setting in, and so was the chatter for good ol’ days of “Money” Matt Bryant, the franchise's all-time leading scorer who parted ways with the team during the offseason. And when Giorgio Tavecchio missed what should’ve been a very makeable 39-yard field goal attempt against the Redskins last Thursday night in front of the home crowd, everyone had seen enough, and the Falcons opened up the competition by bringing in Blair Walsh.
So here we are with one more preseason game to go and the kicker position is far from settled.
Bryant back for a tryout: There was a report Thursday afternoon that the Falcons are going to bring Bryant back in for a tryout. No one knows how that will turn out but if all goes well and the Falcons like what they see, things could get really interesting come Saturday afternoon when the team has trim the roster down to the league-mandated 53 by 4 p.m. ET.
Steady as they come: Punter Matt Bosher and long snapper Josh Harris have been key cogs for the Falcons special teams units for years – and both head into 2019 as two of the better players at their respective positions. Bosher, who has played in Atlanta since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, is playing in the final year of his current deal. It’s worth noting that he is capable of kicking in a pinch, too. Harris signed a three-year contract extension in 2018 and his current deal runs through the 2021 season.
Return duties: Kenjon Barner has easily been the Falcons' most consistent punt and kick returner throughout training camp and the preseason. The Falcons know what they're getting in Barner, who has returned 37 punts for 288 yards in his career, and he has returned 31 kickoffs for 718 yards. Further solidifying Barner's position is the fact that rookies Marcus Green and Olamide Zaccheaus have not capitalized on their chances this preseason.
2019 roster forecast: 4 specialists
Will Giorgio Tavecchio kick his way out of his current kicking slump? That’s what we’re all about to find out. In case he doesn’t, the Falcons are taking an extended look at Blair Walsh in the meantime. If neither player can take advantage of the opportunity, count on the Falcons moving quickly following roster cutdowns this weekend. For now, I think Tavecchio keeps his job, unless something goes terribly wrong in Jacksonville ... or if Matt Bryant impresses the team on Friday during his reported tryout.
- Matt Bosher
- Josh Harris
- Kenjon Barner
- Giorgio Tavecchio
Projected practice squad
There's always a chance that the Falcons could sign a player who is not currently on their roster, but if they stick with their own players, this is my projected 10-player practice squad:
- RB Tony Brooks-James
- WR Christian Blake
- DE Tre' Crawford
- DE Austin Larkin
- DE Durrant Miles
- TE Jaeden Graham
- OT Jaelin Robinson
- S Chris Cooper
- QB Danny Etling
- LB Del’Shawn Phillips
What do you think?
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Falcons Audible podcast
Matt Tabeek and Will McFadden weigh in with their final thoughts before roster cuts.