Falcons Daily: The state of the secondary with A.J. Terrell ruled out

Arthur Smith said A.J. Terrell will not play Sunday. Here's what you need to know about the Falcons secondary in his absence. 

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Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell #24 in action during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 20, 2020.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Arthur Smith confirmed after Friday's practice that A.J. Terrell would not play against the Giants on Sunday. Terrell left last Sunday's game in Tampa Bay with a concussion and did not participate in practice this week. The Falcons will be without their star cornerback, and his absence opens the door for T.J. Green.

Green started training camp being used primarily as a safety. But within a couple weeks, the coaching staff saw fit to cross train him at safety and cornerback due to the versatility they saw him possess. It's a versatility that is valued in Dean Pees' defensive scheme.

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Secondary coach Jon Hoke said Green has the physical traits coaches look for when trying to find someone who can play both spots.

"He's got really good length. He has very good long speed. And for a tall guy I think he has really good short area quickness." Hoke said. "That's always sort of a challenge for those guys."

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After practice on Friday, Smith said the coaching staff feels confident in Green's ability to slide into Terrell's spot. He also noted that it's likely that Darren Hall gets promoted to the active game day roster.

What's interesting about all of this, though, is that the coaches were confident in Green before Terrell had even left the game last Sunday. Pees said earlier in the week that the plan was always to get Green some reps. They had packages together going into that game that had Green involved.

"He earned those reps," Pees said of Green.

Now, with Terrell out, Green has a chance to show us what he's shown coaches since the beginning of training camp. He's been a highly supported depth piece up until this point. That changes on Sunday.

Tori's Tidbits:

+ During his press conference, Hoke spent a few minutes updating the media on the development of Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant. With Hawkins, Hoke said he greatly benefits from having Duron Harmon around. It's something that Hawkins himself noted this week, too.

"I've learned a lot from him," Hawkins said. "He gives me free game, free knowledge, free nuggets. He's got a lot of years. A hell of a player. He's helped me out with a lot of things."

As for Grant, Pees said on Thursday that while he's been an asset on special teams, the rookie safety still has a lot to learn defensively. According to Pees, what's keeping Grant off the field is that he needs to "learn the defense better." Hoke concurred.

"He's going to have a long, productive career," Hoke said. "He's going to be a good football player, but he's young. He's learning."

+ Smith said after practice on Friday that they would make an official decision regarding the punting competition on Saturday. The Falcons brought Dustin Colquitt in this week to compete with Cam Nizialek for the job. However, Smith seemed to leave the door open for Nizialek to still be the Falcons punter come Sunday.

"We feel pretty decent with where Cam is at," Smith said

+ Along with Terrell, Smith ruled Russell Gage (ankle) and Frank Darby (calf) out for Sunday's game. Without Gage, specifically, Smith said a guy like Olamide Zaccheaus will be called upon to step in.

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