The NFL is facing reality as COVID-19 continues to spread. Because of this, teams are only able to have so many tryouts and the Falcons aren’t letting theirs go to waste. This week they hosted safety J.J. Wilcox and 2020 UDFA linebacker John Houston.
Wilcox officially inked with Atlanta on Wednesday however, there’s no word on Houstons’ signing becoming official yet.
Falcons beat writer Jason Butt did say the Falcons have plans to get Houston on at least the practice squad.
The Falcons hosted LB John Houston for a visit today as he will now begin the updated six-day window for COVID-19 testing. The club plans to sign him, although it’s too early to tell if it will be to the 53-man roster or practice squad due to the longer wait and new guidelines.
— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) October 7, 2020
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What Houston Brings to the Table
With a banged-up Atlanta defense, the Falcons could use all the linebacker strength they can get. Houston would fill Foyesade Oluokun’s absence if needed. Oluokon, who is fighting an oblique injury, was held to limited practice participation on Thursday and has already missed one game with another injury.
According to Pro Football Network, the former USC Trojan is fantastic with his hands and moving side-to-side:
“Instinctive linebacker who stays disciplined with assignments”, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network writes. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself and immediately locates the action. Gets depth on pass drops, fluidly moves to every area of the field and flows well laterally. Plays physical football.”
As a Trojan, Houston recorded 171 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and eight pass deflections over 24 appearances for USC between 2018 and 2019, but he has yet to get an opportunity in the NFL and it looks like it will be in Atlanta.
Wilcox Brings Veteran Experience
The Falcons also brought in Wilcox who brings his veteran experience to the safety depth chart.
Over his seven-year career, Wilcox has played in a total of 77 NFL games (39 starts) and has made 233 tackles (173 solo), 16 pass breakups, six interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
Prior to signing with the Falcons in 2019, Wilcox was a third-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2013 NFL Draft. After four years in Dallas, he went on to have stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets.
Wilcox, 28, had his most notable run came with the Dallas Cowboys. After his four seasons in Dallas, Wilcox recorded 212 tackles, 15 pass defenses, five interceptions, and three fumble recoveries in 38 starts as a safety.
Heading into training camp last year, Wilcox was considered a fairly strong candidate for a backup safety spot. He unfortunately never got to show off his talents due to a season-ending injury, but it’s his time now.
Falcons Starting Safety Returns to Active Roster
Rookie and starting cornerback A.J. Terrell has officially been removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list and returned to the active roster.
He should be good to go against the Falcons’ Sunday matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
This is perfect timing considering Atlanta’s defense is banged up. With Kendall Sheffield back on the roster and A.J. Terrell playing opposite him, it’s possible we could finally see a better form of the defense we have been looking for all season.
The bright side is that Atlanta’s injuries continue to trend upward and other starters could be ready to take on the Carolina offense.